| Samuel Andrew "Sam" Hanna, Sr.|
(Louisiana journalist and
|Born|| August 13, 1933 |
Winnsboro, Franklin Parish, Louisiana, USA
Resided in Ferriday, Concordia Parish
|Died|| January 15, 2006 (aged 72) |
Monroe, Ouachita Parish, Louisiana
|Spouse|| Mary Sue Hanna|
Samuel Andrew Hanna, Sr., known as Sam Hanna (August 13, 1933 – January 15, 2006), was a Louisiana journalist who owned and published three newspapers: The Concordia Sentinel in Ferriday, The Franklin Sun in Winnsboro, and The Ouachita Citizen in West Monroe.
Hanna was born in Winnsboro in Franklin Parish, to Andrew and Elizabeth Hanna. An Eagle Scout in his youth, Hanna became a lifelong advocate of the Boy Scouts and received the group's Silver Beaver Award. In 1951, he graduated from Winnsboro High School, since Franklin Parish High School. He then entered Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge on a band scholarship, having excelled at the trumpet, which he played in the LSU marching band. He sold advertising and served as the sports editor of the college newspaper, The Daily Reveille. He received his bachelor's degree in 1955.
Hanna launched his working career as a reporter at the Bastrop Daily Enterprise in Bastrop in Morehouse Parish, north of Monroe. In 1956, hired by managing editor Bert Hatten, later the mayor of West Monroe, Hanna became the outdoors writer for the Monroe newspapers, now consolidated as the The Monroe News Star then owned by the John D. Ewing family and since a Gannett publication. He soon became the News-Star political editor, through which capacity he covered the state legislature and school desegregation.
Hanna was also a columnist, whose One Man’s Opinion appeared in numerous weekly newspapers across the state. He was on friendly terms with virtually all Louisiana governors beginning with Earl Kemp Long, whose last term extended from 1956 to 1960. He appeared in numerous documentaries, particularly on the Public Broadcasting Service, and was considered an expert on the Long faction of the dominant Democratic Party. Among Hanna’s most acclaimed columns were among his last ones in 2005: (1) a study of Elliot D. Coleman, the sheriff of Tensas Parish from 1936 to 1960, and a state police bodyguard present at the assassination of Huey Pierce Long, Jr., and (2) another on the premature death from the after effects of a household fall of Louisiana Secretary of State Walter Fox McKeithen (1946-2005), which tells of Hanna's friendship with McKeithen’s father, John J. McKeithen, the governor from 1964 to 1972 and a native of nearby Columbia in Caldwell Parish in northeast Louisiana.
In 1965, at the age of thirty-two, Hanna purchased his first newspaper, The Concordia Sentinel. He also owned tfrom 1967 to 1988 the Jonesville News-Booster in Jonesville in Catahoula Parish. In 1974, he bought the Winnsboro paper. In 1996, he and his son, Sam Hanna, Jr. (born 1969), purchased The Ouachita Citizen. Hanna said that one of his more significant stories concerned the failure of the Delta Security Bank in Ferriday, which had ties to organized crime boss Carlos Marcello. Another Delta Bank still operates in Ferriday. Hanna was a director of the Concordia Bank & Trust Company in Vidalia, the largest independently owned bank in Louisiana, which has branches in Ferriday and other locations. He was twice president of the Ferriday Chamber of Commerce and a former president of Rotary International in Ferriday. He served on the founding board of directors of the private, Huntington High School in Ferriday.
Death and legacy
Hanna died at St. Francis Hospital in Monroe at the age of seventy-two from emphysema. He and his wife, Mary Sue Hanna (born July 22, 1937) of Ferriday, also had two daughters, Mary Linda Rocconi (born 1961) and husband, August Todd Rocconi (born 1966), of Monroe and Lesley Hanna Capdepon (born 1963) and husband, Charles Keith Capdepon (born 1958), of Newellton, the parish engineerfor Tensas Parish. He had three grandchildren and a daughter-in-law, the former Gena Crawford, the wife of son Sam Hanna, Jr. Though Hanna was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Ferriday, his services were held in the larger sanctuary of the First Baptist Church of Ferriday. Interment was at Old Winnsboro Cemetery in Winnsboro.
Hanna was inducted in 1993 into the LSU Manship J-School Hall of Fame in Baton Rouge. On that occasion, he was asked to address the state legislature and receive accolades for his work. In 1995, Hanna became among the relatively few journalists inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield. In 2004, Hanna was entered into the "50-Year Club" by the Louisiana Press Association, which he joined as a student journalist. After Hanna's death, the press association renamed its annual "Best Regular Column" as the “Sam Hanna Award.
Upon his death, Kathy Spurlock, then the executive editor of The News-Star, called Hanna "the dean of the state’s newspaper publishers, the most knowledgeable about state politics, certainly the one with the most institutional knowledge."
Al Ater, a Ferriday farmer who was a former state representative and the acting Louisiana secretary of state at the time of Hanna's death, was an honorary pallbearer at the funeral, along with former U.S. Representative John Cooksey of Monroe, a Republican, and former state Representative Bryant Hammett, a Democrat from Ferriday. Ater said that few individuals had "their finger on the pulse of politics in Louisiana more than he did. He had a sixth sense of the happenings of the political situation in this state -- police jury to governor, your source for information was Sam Hanna." One of Hanna’s columns, "A Christmas Quail Hunt," which reflects his love of quail hunting, was published annually in his papers. His son still runs the column each December in the three Hanna papers in his father's memory.
- Obituary of Sam A. Hanna. The Natchez Democrat. Retrieved on December 29, 2009; no longer on-line.
- "LSU Loses Two Hall of Fame Members," 2006, lsu.edu.
- Coleman, Elliot D.. Louisiana Historical Association: A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography. Retrieved on October 11, 2019.
- Press Association honors the late Sam Hanna, Sr.. The Ouachita Citizen (May 18, 2006). Retrieved on December 29, 2009, no longer on-line.
- Archive for January 2006. jimbrownla.com. Retrieved on December 29, 2009; no longer on-line.
- Delta Bank. deltabk.com. Retrieved on December 29, 2009; no longer on-line.
- 50-Year Club. laspress.com. Retrieved on December 29, 2009.
- "Sam Hanna, Political Columnist and Publisher, Dies at 72," Editor and Publisher magazine, January 16, 2006}}
- A Christmas Quail Hunt. concordiasentinel.com. Retrieved on December 29, 2009; no longer on-line.