David William Hangas, 74, passed away peacefully on Saturday, March 17, 2018, after a courageous battle with cancer. How fitting for a man with such charm and charisma that his heavenly Father called him home on St. Patrick’s Day. One of Dave’s core values was family and friends. The Irish Proverb describes him best: “A good friend is like a four-leaf clover, hard to find and Lucky to have.”
Dave was born on Feb. 29, 1944, in Missoula, to Emma (See) and Jack Hangas. Being a leap year baby he defied the laws of aging and was always young at heart.
Dave’s upbringing in Missoula inspired a life-long love for the outdoors. Dave brought energy, passion, and dedication to all the activities he pursued. Dave lived life to the fullest. “It is not the length of life, but the depth of life.” — RWE.
Dave in his youth excelled in football and snow skiing which included the junior Olympics. He graduated from Sentinel High School in 1962. In March 1962, Dave’s son Jim was born. By the grace of God they were reunited in 1991. Dave went on to attend the University of Montana. After his college years he toured Europe on $5/day.
Dave met his soul mate Diane Scott and they were married on April 3, 1964. In July 1967 they welcomed their son Jeff and two years later their daughter Jodi. Family meant the world to Dave and he made sure to play an active role as a father. Moto-cross was one passion he shared with Jeff, the love of Harley Davidson’s with Jim and the affection for animals with Jodi.
In 1964 he became a smokejumper for 13 years and totaled hundreds of jumps. Dave had many friends; still his best friends were his dogs. In 1980, Dave won the International Sled Dog Racing Association World Championship in the 7-dog category. Dave later trained black labs and competed in U.S. and Canadian field trials winning many competitions.
Dave had a talent with his hands. He was a craftsman at heart. He was a pipefitter for 25 years working at Smurfit-Stone. He used his artistic talents to sculpt many pieces that will be treasured by family for years to come. From his days as a smoke jumper mending his chutes he took an interest in quilting and made many quilts for special occasions. He enjoyed weight lifting and road biking. He was quite the self-taught home barista and his signature drink was a caramel latte. In his retirement years he enjoyed volunteering at St. Patrick Hospital.
Grandchildren changed his life and focus. They touched his heart in a different way. This rough, tough, and strong man in an instant could be overcome emotionally with pride and be seen shedding a tear of joy.
Dave was preceded in death by his brother Ronnie Hangas; parents Jack and Emma; parents-in-law Richard and Joann Scott; Sister Judy McDonald; and brother-in-law Jim Bauer. He is survived by his wife Diane; older brother Vic Hangas (Ilona) of Missoula; older sister Sally Bauer of Wyoming; older sister Diane (Ron) Conklin of Connor; younger sister Kathie (Danny) Blain of Dallas, Texas; brother-in-law Pat McDonald of Missoula; oldest son Jim (Deanie) Burris of Tucson, Arizona; son Jeff Hangas of Missoula; daughter Jodi (Doug) Chase of Billings; grandchildren Cal (Janelle) Chase of Missoula; grandson Blake Chase of Missoula; grandson Sean Hangas of Japan; granddaughter Sara Hangas of Japan; grandson Jim Jr. (Amie) Burris of Tucson; granddaughter Lucy (Brett) Macintosh of Tucson; grandson Jake (Toni) Burris of Tucson; great grandkids Kyle, Brody, Marlie, Maizie, Leo of Tucson; Liam of Missoula; and many nieces and nephews, all whom he truly loved.
“If You left the grave behind You so will I.” A celebration of Dave’s life will be held at Garden City Funeral Home, 1705 W. Broadway on Saturday, March 24, at noon.
A special thanks to Partners Hospice of Missoula, Dr. Sara Scott, Dr. Martin Lucas and Cassie Blomquist, RN.
Memorial donations may be sent to Partners Hospice, 2687 Palmer St. B, Missoula, MT 59808 or the Humane Society of Western Montana, 5930 US-93, Missoula, MT 59804.