Samuel A. Teolis, Supervisor | Carmella M. Teolis, Funeral Director

Suhail Hanna, 75


Sal Hanna, Chippewa Township, passed away on September 13, 2019 at the age of 75, surrounded by his loving family.

Dr. Hanna taught English in “small but extraordinary,” to use his words, liberal-arts colleges for forty-one years.

While teaching, he published two creative nonfiction books under, what he playfully called, “my flagship name: S S Hanna.”

Iowa State University Press published (1987) his first book The Gypsy Scholar. In its review of this book, Publishers Weekly writes: “Well written, fast paced, funny and enjoyable, it deserves a sizable audience.”

The University Press of Colorado published (1996) his second book titled Beyond Winning, a sports memoir. Both books are in hardback, and both sold out and are out of print.

In retirement while in his seventies, he tried to create people and places with words by writing two interrelated serio-comic novels. Both novels are published in paperback (and electronically), and both are in print.

His third book is a novel published (2015) by the Texas Review Press, a member of the Texas A&M University Press Consortium. Titled A Hall of Fame for Unknown Writers, the novel uses the pen name: S. P. Areham.

His fourth book is published (2019) by Pelekinesis, a literary house in Claremont, California. The novel is titled: A Hairpiece Named Denial. It deals with the ways of a wealthy widow who is an engaging writer of comic prose and a small-town philanthropist.

In her last act, she establishes in her hometown in Kansas the country’s first hall of fame for unknown writers. (The origin and contents of the hall are explored in the book by Areham.)

In its review of the novel, the Midwest Book Review notes: “A Hairpiece Named Denial fully captures Alice’s offbeat humor . . . a delightfully entertaining comic work that also harbors serious insights into the human condition.”

As an expression of his love for his family members, Dr. Hanna dedicated his four books to them. The first book is to his wife of forty-four years: Mahera. Her name spelled backwards forms his pen name.

The second book is dedicated to their daughter Rita. The third to their son Sal and his wife Melissa. The fourth to their twin boys: Paul and Sami, and to their wives: Tracy and Katie.

The fourth book is also dedicated to their son-in-law, Todd, and once again to Mahera: “for her wisdom, humor & love.”

He loved his seven grandchildren: Tressa and Sarai; Elise and Kai; Aiden, Addison, and Alivia. He also loved his two sisters Ursula and Agnes (who live in Wisconsin) and their families. And he loved his extended family members, too numerous to list by name.

The Jacob Hattar family of Tinley Park, Illinois, close relatives with whom the Hannas had exchanged many visits and were traveling companions to Europe and Hawaii, deserve a special mention for their friendship and love.

At his request, there will be no viewing of the body and no memorial service. A private Christian service for the family will be held at Saint Elias Orthodox Church in Ellwood City, followed by burial in Locust Grove Cemetery. He wrote the words that appear on his gravestone:


  1. Sal Hanna

10/19/1943 — 09/13/2019

Author and Professor

~ ~ ~

He loved the Bread of Life

and always prayed for peace

while studying the first half

of the twentieth century.

~ ~ ~

“In this period,” he states in

the last line of his last novel


“literature flowered in the

lava of two world wars.”


In Lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to:

St. Elias Orthodox Church

425 Cherry Way

Ellwood City, PA 16117

The funeral arrangements are entrusted to the Samuel Teolis Funeral Home and Crematory Inc..


  • Father James Hazen Posted September 14, 2019 1:04 pm

    Give rest, O Lord, to your long-suffering servant Suhail, and peace and consolation to his loving famiily. May he dwell with the righteous. Amen+

  • Tim Russell Posted September 14, 2019 5:15 pm

    Suhail and I were colleagues at Geneva College where I, like many students and colleagues, admired and highly respected his gentle wit, erudition and scholarship. I enjoyed and respected him highly. He was a prince of a man and noble Christian.

  • Reda Awwad Family Posted September 15, 2019 7:55 am

    God bless his soul, he was a wonderful person in and out RIP

  • Maher Awwad Family Posted September 15, 2019 8:50 am

    May he be remembered forever with the Saints and the righteous
    May his soul rest in peace

  • Sharon Glover Posted September 18, 2019 1:04 am

    I am saddened that Mahera and the children have lost their husband and father. I, as many others, have lost a great mentor and friend. When I think of Suhail I can hear his words of encouragement and teaching mingled with a special kind of laughter not replicated by any other person I have known. He loved God and served him well. Now he rests in the arms of his Lord and Savior. My sympathy to his family and all who feel his loss.

  • Norman Carson PhD Posted September 27, 2019 12:59 pm

    Perhaps the best thing I did as chair of the Geneva College department of English was to hire Suhail Hanna as a member of the department. His infectious laugh and warm friendship endeared him to me and the department members. He loved teaching and sports. I can still see him kicking an extra point for the U. of Wisconsin football varsity team. He was a true friend of his students and one of my dearest colleagues. He will be greatly missed both for for his creative talent and his faithful service to Christ and country.

  • Anne Hladio Macios Posted October 12, 2019 7:35 pm

    I just learned of Dr. Hanna’s passing. I just wanted to share that he was the professor that had the most profound impact on my career and confidence in my own writing. May his memory be eternal

  • Josh Cretella Posted December 15, 2019 4:03 am

    May heaven greet you with endless scrolls of modernist poetry and pomegranate seeds, Suhail.

    I ended my last two years at school taking a sizeable amount of classes with Dr. Hanna. I’m still moved by his enthusiasm for all writing, even if it was a topic that didn’t engage him. The things I remember most are his off-track digressions, building in pulse, beat and enthusiasm, as he slowly marched to the grandiose, yet true, point at hand. We spent many hours in his office talking, me from a far less educated point; Dr. Hanna always respected my thoughts and let me find my own way to understanding of whatever we discussed. In my last few months at Geneva, Dr. Hanna assisted me on my senior project. He helped staple final copies of my magazine upstairs in his office, minutes before the capstone presentation. He seemed so proud of my work and later gave me a copy of “Ulysses” because he wanted me to keep pushing and challenging myself.

  • Noah Finley Posted January 5, 2020 8:27 pm

    I’ve never been and probably will never be much of a writer; yet, somehow, Dr. Hanna awakened something within me, made me aware that writing could be an art, not just a medium of communication. The world needs more professors like him.

  • Rev. Dr. Will Mason Posted May 18, 2020 10:15 pm

    Dr. Hanna was my freshman English professor at O.B.U. in Shawnee, OK., 1973. He regaled us with his professional football stories when he kicked for the KC Chiefs,
    he threw chalk at us (playfully) when we answered his insightful questions with stupid answers. He invited us to his home where we found his Ph.d degree hanging just above the toilet paper, and he gave me an A—- (but that’s an A in the office-his words!) for my final grade and paper. God gains much and when we had him, we did too! Blessings to his family and all SS Hanna alums!

  • Peter Schreffler Posted July 30, 2020 1:27 pm

    I’m saddened to happen on to Dr. Hanna’s obituary. As an English major at Geneva College (in Beaver Falls, PA,) I took a creative writing course with him in 1983. He was always encouraging and jovial. He invited me to his home for dinner, and we played tennis once together. He was very down to earth and welcoming.

  • Deborah (Michael) Gatz Posted January 14, 2021 10:21 am

    I just now learned of Dr. Hanna’s passing. He both challenged and encouraged me in his creative writing courses, saying he never gave A’s. Challenge accepted, I acquired an A. Through my nephew, I learned Dr. Hanna was teaching at Geneva College and my nephew was in one of his classes.
    I still remember Dr. Hanna’s passion for literature, for teaching and for excellence. I continue to recall a short story he wrote about WWII enemy soldiers coming face to face and wish I had a copy of that story.
    His love for the Lord undergirded his interests and profession in an authentic, appealing manner. To his family and friends, I am sorry that you have undergone this loss, but can imagine you are still able to hear his laugh and jokes when you recall your husband, father, grandpa, brother. God bless you and comfort you with the hope that will one day come to fruition: seeing Jesus face to face with Dr. Hanna close beside Him.
    Deborah (Michael) Gatz, Liberty University 1983

  • M. A. Salsbury Posted May 31, 2022 3:01 pm

    I have come across this obituary today in my search for my dear poetry and creative writing professor when I was at Liberty Baptist College, 1978-1982. I offer my sincere condolences to Mahera, their children, and their grandchildren. After a wide career as a theatre artist, professional vocalist, and minister of the Gospel, I find myself finally able to turn my attention full-time to my writing, and I was hoping to touch base with Dr. Hanna, as he was one professor for whom I never had trouble turning in well-crafted assignments on time! I was so hoping to catch up and dialogue with him again, but I see I will need to wait until Jesus Christ’s return now. All the more reason to anticipate that great and glorious day! May God bless you all!

  • Elston Turner Posted August 15, 2022 7:46 pm

    I am so sorry to learn that my beloved Professor of English at Sterling College has passed.Dr.Hanna embrace all the kids from Selma, Alabama.There were four of us.He would bring us to his house as we prepared for his lovely wife.He was an amazing teacher whom we in Alabama Love Dearly.Rest In Peace! Elston,Oscar,Otis and Jack.Im Elston

  • Marcia Bickel Posted March 1, 2023 5:02 pm

    I was so sorry to see that my favorite English Prof at Sterling College had passed away. He was a great teacher and made you work hard at being creative. I loved how he called everyone by either “sister” or “brother” in class. One of the best teachers ever!

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