Ray Hanson

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Ray Hanson
Ray Hanson coach.jpg
Hanson pictured in Sequel 1931, Western Illinois yearbook
Biographical details
Born(1895-10-05)October 5, 1895
Vasa, Minnesota
DiedJanuary 4, 1982(1982-01-04) (aged 86)[1]
Macomb, Illinois
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1925Crosby HS (CT)
1926–1941Western Illinois
1929–1941Western Illinois
1946–1947Western Illinois
c. 1930Western Illinois
Administrative career (AD unless noted)
1925–1926Crosby HS (CT)
1926–1943Western Illinois
1945–1964Western Illinois
Head coaching record
Overall56–59–12 (football)

Raymond Willis "Rock" Hanson (October 5, 1895 – January 4, 1982) was an American military officers and college sports coach and administrator. He was a United States Marine Corps colonel and highly decorated veteran of World War I and World War II. Hanson served as the head football coach at Western Illinois State Teachers College—now known as Western Illinois University—in Macomb, Illinois, from 1926 to 1941.

Marine Corps career[edit]

Hanson enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1916 and served during World War I, he was assigned to the 75th Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment. Hanson participated in the Battle of Belleau Wood, Battle of Château-Thierry and many other battles.

During the Battle of Château-Thierry, Corporal Hanson saved his comrade, Private William A. Weaver, who was seriously wounded in the leg and pinned down by enemy machine gun fire. Hanson went out in front of US lines and, after reaching the wounded Pvt. Weaver, he stopped the bleeding and carried him to safety. For the extraordinary heroism in combat, Hanson was decorated with the Navy Cross, he was also decorated with the Silver Star, Purple Heart and French Croix de guerre 1914–1918 with Palm by the Government of France.

After the war, Hanson remained in the Marine Corps and served during the Allied occupation of the Rhineland, he subsequently resigned from the Marine Corps, but stayed in the Marine Corps Reserve.

During World War II, Hanson was recalled to the active service and was assigned to the Camp Elliott, San Diego as Chief Morale Officer, he later served as Fleet Marine Force recreation officer and was responsible for planning of tours of Pacific bases by his troupe of 30 Marine entertainers. He retired with the rank of colonel.

Coaching career[edit]

Hanson officially began his coaching career at Western after studying under Knute Rockne (hence the nickname "Rock"). Hanson had the distinction of being the football coach the first year that a black athlete, Ernest Page, played on Western's team, as well as having the longest tenure of any head football coach ever at Western.

Hanson was the head football coach for at Western Illinois State Teachers College—now known as Western Illinois University—in Macomb, Illinois, serving for 16 seasons, from 1926 to 1941, and compiling a record of 56–59–12. [2]

Hanson gained permission from the Marine Corps to use the name "Fighting Leathernecks" for Western's teams. To this day, Western Illinois University is the only public school in the United States that has permission through the Department of the Navy to use the United States Marine Corps official seal and mascot, the bulldog, along with the nickname. Western's mascot, a bulldog named Colonel Rock, or more commonly "Rocky", was named in honor of Hanson, as was Western's football field, Hanson Field.


Hanson died on January 4, 1982, at McDonough Hospital in Macomb.[3]

Head coaching record[edit]


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Western Illinois Leathernecks (Illinois Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) (1926–1941)
1926 Western Illinois 4–3–1
1927 Western Illinois 6–3–1
1928 Western Illinois 2–3–3
1929 Western Illinois 3–5
1930 Western Illinois 4–4
1931 Western Illinois 2–6
1932 Western Illinois 4–2–1
1933 Western Illinois 3–5
1934 Western Illinois 5–3
1935 Western Illinois 2–6
1936 Western Illinois 3–2–2
1937 Western Illinois 3–4–1
1938 Western Illinois 6–2
1939 Western Illinois 5–1–1 2–0–1 1st
1940 Western Illinois 1–6–1 0–3–1 4th
1941 Western Illinois 3–4–1 1–2–1 4th
Western Illinois: 56–59–12
Total: 56–59–12


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Western Illinois Coaching Records
  3. ^ "Hanson, ex-Western coach, dies". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Illinois. January 6, 1982. p. 61. Retrieved June 18, 2019 – via Newspapers.com open access.

External links[edit]