Francis J. Hanratty Jr., 95, of Auburn, Massachusetts, passed away surrounded by his family on Friday, October 25, 2019.
Fran’s wife of 59 years Natalie (Davidson) Hanratty predeceased him. He leaves His sisters Joan Hanratty and Pearl Hanratty of Millbury; his four children, Francis J. Hanratty III and his wife Sunok of Alabama, Michael Hanratty and his wife Linda of Oregon, Dr. Nancy Hanratty and her husband David Guilbault of Bernardston, Mass., and Mark Hanratty of Leicester. He also leaves many nieces and nephews, eight grandchildren and seven great- grandchildren. His brother Chester and his sister Silvia predeceased him.
Fran was born in Worcester, son of Frank and Lilian (Cashman) Hanratty on College Hill. Educated in Worcester schools and at Boys Trade, he was a licensed Master Electrician working for Coghlin Electric and then Wyman-Gordon Company where he retired early as the Chief Electrician of the Millbury and Grafton Plant to take care of his wife Natalie who was in failing health.
Fran also leaves his friend Sean Lovely (the cop up the street) and family of Auburn. They were dedicated neighbors and always took care of him and provided friendship no matter what he needed.
Francis was a member of St Joseph’s Parish in Auburn and a member of Tin Can Sailors, Wyman-Gordon Pistol Team, and the Wyman Gordon Camping Club. In his later years, he was made an Honorary Life Member of the Schutzenverein Club in Gill, Mass., a group whose members treated him like one of their own even celebrating his 90th birthday as a special event.
A big part of his life was entering the Navy. Enlisting during World War II, he served as an electrician’s mate aboard the USS Bennett DD 473 and traveled throughout the Pacific during the war. The Bennett received nine battle stars and a Navy Citation with Francis aboard. The ship fought in the Solomon Islands, Cape Torokina, Bougainville Green Island, Kavieng on New Ireland, Rabaul, New Britain of Saipan, Guam, invasion of the Palaus (Peleliu). Then she steamed west to take part in the invasion of Iwo Jima (19 February through 5 March 1945), then the invasion of Okinawa. At 08:50, on 7 April, she was hit by an Imperial Japanese Navy kamikaze plane, damaging the forward engine room, and knocking out all of her electrical power. Fran and his crew mates pulled multiple sailors from the burning engine room. Seven sailors ultimately died from their injuries, and fourteen survived serious injuries. The Bennett was able to make it to the small naval base at Kerama Retto under her own power.
For years after their service until 2015, the Crew of the Bennett got together yearly to remember their Fallen shipmates.
The funeral Mass for Fran will be held Wednesday, October 30, at 10 a.m. in St. Joseph’s Church, 189 Oxford St., Auburn, with burial following at 1:30 p.m. at the Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne, Mass. There are no calling hours.
In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 Saint Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105.
The Athy Memorial Home, 111 Lancaster St., Worcester, is directing arrangements.