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Obituary: Austin John (A.J.) Hancock - KBZK.com | Continuous News | Bozeman, Montana

Obituary: Austin John (A.J.) Hancock

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A.J. (Austin John) Hancock, age 92, died December 4, 2016, at Deaconess Hospital in Bozeman, Montana. Even as his strong and athletic body weakened with age, his mind remained clear and decisive.

AJ was married to Betty (Moody) Hancock for 69 years of love and exceptional devotion. After meeting on a blind date during World War II, AJ and Betty were married on January 9, 1945, in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  Together they raised three children, Leslie Seifert of Holts Summit, Missouri, Elizabeth Hancock of Bozeman, and Scott (Julie) Hancock of Livingston, Montana, and shared their lives with six grandchildren - Brooke (Jason) Hewitt, Nathan Seifert, Tyler and Anya Mack, and Holt and Eliza Hancock - and two great-grandchildren - Zachary and Hannah Hewitt. After Betty's death in 2014,  AJ carried on with his positive attitude and forward thinking approach to life.

AJ was born in 1924 as the only child of Austin and Phyllis (Preston) Hancock of Waupaca, Wisconsin. A true child of The Great Depression, he always valued and displayed his commitment to hard work, thrift, education, community, and the value of a good story and shared laugh. After he received a full scholarship to the University of Wisconsin in Madison, World War II interrupted his academic and athletic aspirations when he was called to active duty in the Army Air Corps in 1943. He served as an officer specializing in navigation and radar in the Pacific and the U.S. in both World War II and the Korean War. Although he was proud of his years of military service, he rarely spoke of his wartime experiences.

Between the wars, AJ returned to Betty and the University of Wisconsin (under the GI bill), quickly earning a business degree. Settling in Madison, he worked long hours in the employee-employer benefits industry for many years, ultimately forming his own company, Wisconsin Financial Security, Inc, from which he retired at age 77. He awoke every day ready to go to work - always with a welcoming smile and firm handshake.

Although he enjoyed independently making a living for his family, his true professional passion was his extensive community service and volunteer work on projects too numerous to fully catalog.  Active in Madison West Kiwanis, Junior Achievement, St. Andrews Episcopal Church, Wisconsin Public Radio and Television, a wide range of professional organizations and many education-related efforts ranging from teaching marketing seminars at local colleges to building innovative programs for at-risk pre-schoolers, AJ continually worked to better the community around him.

Although fully committed Wisconsinites, Betty and AJ moved in 2000 to Bozeman to be closer to the family. Not missing a beat, AJ chose to volunteer at the Museum of the Rockies, Bozeman Deaconess Hospital, and St. James Episcopal Church all the while providing long hours of devoted care to Betty as her health declined. As Betty's condition further deteriorated, they moved from their home to the Bozeman Lodge and then to Highgate Senior Living as she required more memory care than he could provide. In keeping with the patterns of his life, he assumed leadership roles in both the Bozeman Lodge and Highgate Residence Councils - continuing to serve and remain active as he attended to his family and mourned the loss of Betty.

AJ was preceded in death by his parents, Betty, and grandson, Nathan. Special thanks to the many exceptional doctors, nurses, and care-giving staff members of Bozeman Deaconess, as well as the concern and support of AJ's many friends at Bozeman Lodge and Highgate. The family would like to acknowledge special thanks to Becca and Nona at Bozeman Deaconess Palliative Care for their valuable advice and perspective.

AJ was a big presence who loved people and believed in making the world around him a better place. He is missed and loved, and we celebrate his strength, commitment, his light, and life.

A brief memorial will be held on Sunday, December 18th at 2:00 pm at Highgate Senior Living, 2219 West Oak Street, Bozeman. The family welcomes you to join us for an open house celebration from 2:00 – 3:30 pm that day.

Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service.  www.dokkennelson.com

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