Darrell Fenton Hanni was born in Moore, Idaho, on July 20, 1929, the second son of Charles Albert Hanni and Dolly Irene Hull. After graduating from Mackay High School in 1947, he spent time working in Alaska and served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.
On Sept. 8, 1955, he married Alaire Elizabeth Johnson.
He worked as a heavy equipment operator at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory beginning in 1949 until his retirement in 1992. After the explosion of the SL-1 nuclear reactor in 1961, he spent months operating a 60-ton Manitowoc crane behind a nine inch lead glass shield to demolish the reactor and building, and later testified in court proceedings about the experience.
As the lead heavy equipment operator at Test Area North (TAN), he lead many critical lifts requiring expert knowledge of rigging, crane configuration, load weight and rated capacity. In addition, he was selected to be in charge of the LOFT dolly/locomotive transport vehicle at TAN, a program that resulted in new safety designs for nuclear reactors around the world. Blessed with a lifelong love of machinery, he could fix anything and developed a high level of expertise in operating indoor and outdoor cranes to very precise standards for the construction and maintenance of nuclear reactors. His work life included serving as a union representative in contract negotiations with management. In the course of his work as a radiation worker, he was contaminated with Cesium, which contributed to his later illness.
Throughout his life, he was an avid outdoorsman, catching fish in rivers and lakes around the area. An expert marksman, he bagged his moose in 1976. He made sure his children and grandchildren knew how to safely handle a gun. He took a special pleasure in teaching his children and grandchildren to drive. He successfully traded commodity futures as a hobby. He loved to go on long drives in his truck, taking a family member with him, exploring the mountains, rivers and geography of the West and talking about life, the past and the future. His wife was a great cook with an amazing garden, and Darrell looked forward to family time together each day at the dinner table. He had a special appreciation for his wife's delicious meals and incredible homemaking skills. He and his wife became experts in health food, and together they helped their children and others enjoy the benefits of healthy eating. Above all, he treasured time spent with his children and grandchildren and looked forward to long weekends with them in Island Park. He enjoyed traveling with family in England, France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Morocco, Mexico, Canada and throughout the U.S.
Blessed with an independent mind, he loved to discuss politics and put great importance on being honest, fair-minded and assisting the less fortunate. In his later years, he kept his mind active by listening to books on tape, becoming an expert on Lewis and Clark and other topics in U.S. history. Until the end of his life, he was blessed with a sharp memory and could recall events clearly with a remarkable level of detail.
Darrell passed away Saturday, May 24, 2014, at the age of 84 at his home in Idaho Falls in the company of many loved ones. He is survived by Alaire, his wife of 58 years; and four children: Terri (Stephen) Anderson of Columbia, Mo.; Brian (Celia) Hanni of Denver, Colo.; Clint (Yuko) Hanni of Sandy, Utah; and Trudy (Tom) Miller of Tremonton, Utah. He has 15 grandchildren: Christopher (Rebekah) Hanni, Manfred (Jenna) Anderson, Todd (Lindsay) Miller, Aaron Anderson, Derek (Beth) Miller, Stephanie (Sean) Souza, Mark (Riley) Hanni, Melissa Miller, Sarah Hanni, Jessica Miller, Holly Miller, John Hanni, James Hanni and Nicole Miller. He has seven great-grandchildren: Ophelia Hanni, Everett Hanni, Tyson Miller, Colt Miller, Jace Miller, Caroline Anderson and Lily Anderson.
Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Thursday, May 29, at Wood Funeral Home, 273 N. Ridge Ave. in Idaho Falls, with a viewing one hour prior to the funeral. Interment will take place at Grant Central Cemetery.