Manny Hanowell remembers his exact start date at the City of Seattle – March 4, 1957. Back then, his work drafting and mapping the city’s electrical grid was done by hand and in ink, and predated a time when every street in Seattle had lighting and I-5 existed.
In fact, Hanowell played an important role in both of these projects. As an Electrical Enginering Specialist, one of his first projects with the City was designing the plans for the first arterial lights. Later, he planned the lighting program for Seattle’s residential streets which, at the time, were bare bulbs.
One of his favorite projects though was working on the cityscape-changing Interstate 5 (I-5) project back in 1960-1962. Hanowell worked closely with the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to re-route power lines around the incoming freeway and determine the size of poles and transformers needed to light the new thoroughfare.
“Back then, just a few cars were using the freeway and I wondered why they had made it so big,” he laughed.
Every one of Hanowell’s projects require him to use advanced math skills to calculate the amount of power and electricity needed for various residential and commercial projects throughout the city. The math is, in part, what has kept him going for all of these years.
“My co-workers and customers, plus the challenge of mathematical calculations have always kept me motivated,” he said.
Hanowell graduated from Western Washington University with a B.A. in Mathematics and worked as a junior high school teacher for a year before deciding to change paths. During his tenure at City Light, he challenged the federal powerline calculation, and was acknowledged by the U.S. government for his diligence and mathematical expertise.
On Mon., Dec. 2, 2019, Hanowell retired after working for the City for an incredible 62.5 years. To his co-workers, he’s “the King”, and they have so many fond memories of working with him over the years. At his cubicle, there were collages of photos spanning six decades, including a photo of him in his barbershop quartet days, and one of him on his bicycle, which he rode to and from work everyday from the Lake City neighborhood to the North Service Center. Even some of his long-time customers came to his retirement party to say thank you to an amazing person.
Hanowell probably would’ve kept on working had it not been for his oldest son, who retired earlier this year, and his youngest son, who will retire early next year, both prompting him to take a break. Hanowell also has a daughter who is a prominent artist in the Pacific Northwest.
When asked what he’ll do in retirement, Hanowell listed numerous hobbies including fixing bicycles and being a ham radio operator. He’ll also still be a huge supporter of worker’s rights, which has been near and dear to his heart since his father – a logger in the timber industry – instilled the importance of unions to worker safety and security.
Everyone at PROTEC17 extends a heartfelt thank you and congratulations to Manny for 62 years of service to the public! His hard-work, positive spirit, and dedication to his job, co-workers, and unions is inspirational and his shoes are far too big to ever fill.