Gene Hannah, known as Geno, was the fourth of six children born to Vince and Genny Hannah.
Vince and Genny make ends meet with a herd of cattle, feed sales and hard work. Four of their children graduated from Ivy League universities, got married and are now living in British Columbia, Manitoba and Connecticut.
Geno and his youngest sister Rae remained in the Mankota, Sask., area. Geno worked as a carpenter for Schafer Construction, and Rae works odd jobs within the community. In their spare time, they both helped out in and around the family ranch.
Like all of his siblings, Geno attended Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in Wilcox, Sask., where he honed his hockey skills and served in leadership roles on and off the ice. Following high school, Geno played in the British Columbia Junior Hockey League before returning to the family home and playing first with the Ponteix Penguins, then with the Glentworth Thunder of the Notekeu Hockey League. He was a fearless competitor and devoted teammate and was recognized as the league's most sportsmanlike player for the past three seasons.
Geno was a great guy who accepted others unconditionally. Everyone enjoyed his company. He was humble and selfless and was always quick to lend a helping hand. He had a strong work ethic and approached everything with diligence and perseverance. During his spare time he enjoyed woodworking and used his talents to create gifts for family and friends.
A music lover, Geno was a self-taught guitarist. He had a small collection of guitars with which he taught his eight-year-old nephew Sam to play. Sam, Geno's only nephew, adored his uncle. Geno's nieces, Jaden, Kendall, Mattison and Emma, admired him very much too.
Geno and Rae were repairing a barbed-wire fence for their dad at about 4 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon when lightning struck. It wasn't raining. Rae regained consciousness within minutes. Her limbs were numb, but somehow she managed to climb into the truck to call for help. Geno had been killed instantly.
Amazingly, Rae survived, albeit with minor burns and major hearing loss. She remembers their final conversation: "You sure can hear the clouds out here, even when they're far away," she said.
"It's so peaceful," Geno said. "You can hear everything - that's why I like it here."
Geno's brothers Shaun and Kim and his sisters Jill, Pam and Rae will be choosing which of his guitars each wishes to keep in memory of their brother. Sam has already received an electric guitar and Geno's favourite hat.
Jill Tanner is Gene's sister and John Tanner is Jill's father-in-law.