H. Hannon was born on October 2,
1913, in Los Angeles and died on November
4, 1999, in the same city he called home for a lifetime.
He is remembered as a community builder whose passion
for real estate was matched only by his passion for
giving away the riches he had made.
William’s father made his living as a rancher,
and his mother was a homemaker. During the Great Depression
when money was scarce, William’s parents would
put the children in their Studebaker and tour California’s
twenty-one Missions. This was not only an inexpensive
form of entertainment, but it was also how William
developed an interest in the history of early California
and the Los Angeles area.
After graduating from Loyola
High School in 1933, William wanted to attend
Loyola University in Westchester (now Loyola
Marymount University). With no money for a college
education, William and his mother asked the President
of Loyola University if they would admit him with
the intention that William would pay back the school
for his education once he got a job. William’s
college education began on a handshake deal that would
result in his lifelong dedication and support of his
After his studies at Loyola University, William was
called to serve as an intelligence officer in the
Army. He received a special meritorious award for
his work on the Manhattan Project, the group that
designed and built the first atomic bomb.
In 1937 William began work with Fritz B. Burns &
Associates. They subdivided thousands of acres in
Westchester, then built and sold homes to GIs returning
from World War II. William Hannon and Fritz Burns
then went on to develop Playa del Rey, Panorama City
and Ontario in Southern California.
William continued in the real estate business independently
of Fritz Burns, buying apartments, industrial buildings,
and operating the popular San Fernando Swap Meet.
He also served as president of the Fritz B. Burns
Foundation, founded by his former partner and mentor.
In 1983, William formed his own philanthropy, the
William H. Hannon Foundation. Over the years, the
Hannon Foundation has supported many Catholic schools,
Missions and hospitals, as well as numerous other
public and private nonprofit organizations in Southern
William’s fascination with early California
history and real estate led to a passion for Father
Junípero Serra, the founder of the California
Missions who is credited with establishing the first
settlements in California through a network of Missions.
William often said, “Father Serra was the first
developer of California. If you buy real estate, buy
within a twenty mile radius of a Mission. California’s
twenty-one Missions are all near fertile soil and
To promote the spirit and contributions of Father
Serra, the William H. Hannon Foundation commissioned
an artist to design a life-size bronze statue of Father
Serra. From this single mold, the Hannon Foundation
had almost one hundred more statues cast and placed
at the California Missions, and at various Catholic
schools and universities. A devout Catholic, William
wanted to renew an interest in Father Serra and eventually
have Father Serra declared a Saint by the Roman Catholic
Church. Today, the Catholic Church is going through
the lengthy process of establishing Sainthood for
During his life, William was a major benefactor of
his alma mater, Loyola Marymount University, serving
as an Honorary Trustee and a Regent Emeritus. From
Hannon Field to the Hannon
Apartments, named in honor of his mother, Eugenie
B. Hannon, William’s spirit
and the Hannon name continue to live on at LMU today.
A new state-of-the-art library, the William H. Hannon
Library opened in August 2009.
to LMU, the William H. Hannon Foundation supports
other local universities and colleges (Mount
St. Mary's College, Marymount
Law School, and University
of San Diego, to name a few), high schools, elementary
schools and preschools.
William was also very proud to be named a Knight of
St. Gregory and to receive the 1994 Cardinal’s
Award from the leader of the Archdiocese
of Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony. William’s
Catholic faith and the promotion of the Church and
its good works were central to his life.
The William H. Hannon Foundation carries on his legacy