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302-478-7100 Wilmington & Hockessin, DE

Patricia Hannigan

Patricia (Pat) Hannigan, of Wilmington Delaware, passed away peacefully on the morning of February 11, 2024 in Wilmington, Delaware. She was 74. Born in Colόn, Panama in 1949, she was the daughter of the late Joseph Hannigan and Agnes (McDade) Hannigan. She was raised in the Canal Zone and was ever after a “Zonian” at heart. In high school she was on the water ballet team and developed a lifelong love of the water. So much so that later in life she took up scuba diving and after her air pressure outlasted that of the instructor on her check out dive he only half-jokingly checked her for gills.

She moved to the U.S. to attend the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where she mistook her first sight of snow for ash from a fire somewhere nearby. In her typical “I am not shrinking from anything” fashion, the young woman who had never before owned a sweater immediately signed up for skiing lessons. She earned a B.A. degree in Musical Theatre from the University of Massachusetts and went on the earn M.A.’s in Sociology from the University of Virginia and the University of Pennsylvania.
Just before submitting her Ph.D. dissertation to the University of Pennsylvania, she left for a more practical calling and earned her Juris Doctor from Rutgers University Law School. Her professional career began as a Public Defender in Delaware, the rough and tumble of which suited her well. After a brief stint in private practice that suited her less well, she became an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware, a position she held for 29 years and a job she truly loved. She was elected as President of the Delaware Bar Association for 2002-2003. An outstanding trial attorney, she used her theatric background to good effect; rumor has it that she took reading glasses she didn’t need to the podium so that at appropriate moments she could either look over them skeptically or remove them with a sweep that said “Really?” without saying a word.

She also was an outstanding vocalist – a mezzo soprano who loved Italian lyric opera and had a power packed voice. Her highlight role was singing Musetta in Puccini’s La Boheme. She toyed with becoming a professional but said of her talent that she was as an A- soprano when anything other than A+ meant more waiting on tables than arias at the Met. But she sang as an amateur at a very high level. She was a member of choruses on stage under the baton of Ricardo Mutti with the Philadelphia Orchestra and performed at the Academy of Music and Carnegie Hall. She loved best her starring roles in hysterical musical spoofs that were put on by members of the Delaware State Bar Association through Lex Lyrica.
Pat was fiercely direct and independent. She craved travel, adventure, and spontaneity throughout her life, and encouraged by example the same in those around her. She went rock climbing in Yosemite, rode a substantial motorcycle to work, was in Johannesburg the day after Mandela was inaugurated President of South Africa while on her way to a safari in Kenya, and sailed and scuba dived around the BVI, as a small sampling. The highlight of every year for Pat was a reunion in Maine with her sprawling family, a time replete with much water skiing, precarious parasailing, and general revelry, all engaged in with a hope that no one actually got seriously hurt and boats on the bottom the lake would be rare.

Beneath this elan and bravado, Pat also had a deep seriousness, with a keen eye for an intolerance of injustices, and a palpable compassion for those facing the struggles of life that are so unequally bestowed across us. She was a Quaker, a member of Wilmington Monthly Meeting, where weekly she sat in contemplation, gifted by the silent communion with others and the occasional heartfelt messages of wisdom or anguish to ponder. She held all in the light, a resounding presence in her throughout her life.
Pat was predeceased by her brother Joe Hannigan, and her sisters Mary Anne Modoono and Alice O’Regan. Pat is survived by her two beloved daughters, Lan and Zia, her sister Diane Moran, and the many members of the Hannigan clan who loved her dearly.

A celebration of her life will be held at the Wilmington Friends Meeting House in Delaware on May 11, 2024, at 11:00 a.m. [Please Note: Black attire is not expected, unless you look fabulous in it.]

Funeral Services

A celebration of her life will be held at the Wilmington Friends Meeting House, 401 N West St, Wilmington, DE 19801 on May 11, 2024, at 11:00 a.m. [Please Note: Black attire is not expected, unless you look fabulous in it.]


    Barbara Crowell lit a candle and writes,
    What an amazing lady! So very sad.
    02/29/2024 08:41 am
    ed pankowski lit a candle and writes,
    I have fond memories of pat working together for many years in the public defenders office with her… She was a great lawyer… RIP my friend
    03/01/2024 05:05 pm
    The Tigani Family (Jamie, Jeff and Nina) writes,
    We’re so sorry. Pat was amazing, not simply for her brains and beauty, but for her big heart. She was colleague, mentor and friend. Over the years, our families spent many a Summer week together in Bethany Beach. LAN and Jamie are the same age and first met before they could even walk! Zia loved playing with the “big” girls. Those times together are cherished. May your memories last a lifetime but your sorrow pass. Sending you love and peace.
    03/02/2024 11:47 am
    Aida Waserstein writes,
    Hers was a life well lived. I hope that gives comfort to you, her family, at this difficult time.
    03/02/2024 12:25 pm
    Barbara Stratton lit a candle and writes,
    She has left us too soon. Of all her accomplishments, her greatest joy was becoming a mother.
    03/03/2024 09:02 am
    Barbara Schoenberg writes,
    My deepest condolences on Pat's passing. May her memory always be a blessing
    03/03/2024 01:38 pm
    Sarah Steigler Graham writes,
    I always loved singing with Pat. I am so so sorry for your loss. She is a true star!
    03/04/2024 11:34 pm
    Kate Robbins lit a candle and writes,
    I will be back
    03/06/2024 12:02 am
    Betsy McGeever lit a candle and writes,
    Rest in peace, my friend
    03/07/2024 12:03 pm
    Kent Jordan writes,
    One of the finest colleagues and friends I ever worked with -- big heart, great mind, all in. What a blessing to have known her.
    03/08/2024 04:13 pm
    Kathleen Robbins ((Kate) writes,
    Heart was a lifelong friend and one I will never forget. We talked once a month for at least an hour in the last many years. I will miss those conversations. I am consoled at the thought of meeting her daughters on May 11 if I can get there. I love you Pat.
    03/23/2024 08:30 pm

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