Gail Hannuk

Gail Hannuk, 1942-2006: 1961 Miss Washington always glad to entertain

By AMY ROLPH
P-I REPORTER

It’s Gail Hannuk’s voice that her friends remember the most.

Whether the former Miss Washington was answering the telephone or entertaining at a dinner party, she was bright, boisterous and anything but quiet.

Hannuk
P-I FILE / 1961
Gail Hannuk shows off the personalized license plate ordered for her by the governor after she won the Miss Washington title in 1961.

“I can just hear her voice right now,” said Kippy Lou Brinkman-Scott, a friend of Hannuk’s. “It was one of those voices that you just don’t forget.”

Hannuk died earlier this month after battling pancreatic cancer for three years. She was 63.

She left behind a legacy that began in 1961 when she was crowned Miss Washington.

“She would walk into a room, and the whole room would light up,” said Beverly White, who knew Hannuk through the Miss Washington program. “Even when she was at this crisis in her life, you never saw her down — never. She looked phenomenal. She always had her hair done, the latest cute outfit on, even if she had to not get up until the afternoon and could only be up for a few hours.”

Her doctors said she was a miracle, said White, who is the southwest field director for the Miss Washington program. Usually pancreatic cancer victims live less than three months, she said.

“I can’t imagine that there was anything other than a true will to live that kept Gail here,” she said.

Hannuk, the only Miss Grays Harbor to go on to win the title of Miss Washington, was a born entertainer who could sing her way into anyone’s heart, friends said.

“She was never happier than when she was at a party and someone said, ‘Gail, can you play this,’ or, “Gail, can you play that?’ She always could,” White said.

After her reign as Miss Washington, Hannuk worked as a motivational speaker and did promotional work for the state. She remained involved in the Miss Washington program as a board member for the Miss Grays Harbor Pageant and the Miss Thurston County Pageant.

Most recently, she worked as a real estate agent for Windermere Real Estate in Olympia.

But Brinkman-Scott, who was crowned Miss Washington in 1965, remembers a younger Hannuk who gave her valuable advice on how to live life after being crowned.

“Gail was very down to earth,” she said. “She just zeroed in on living life to the fullest and told me to make my own choices and tailor my goals to what my individual challenges and hopes were.”

Hannuk is survived by her son and daughter — Christopher Gores and Leslie Gores — and three grandchildren.

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