WALLA WALLA - Herman "Dutch" Hayner, 93, a prominent attorney who operated one of the oldest law firms in the region and was a longtime supporter of numerous city, county and state facilities, died Friday.
Born in Fairfield, Wash., on Sept 25, 1916, Hayner was admitted to the Washington and Oregon bar in 1946. In 1948 he took over one of the oldest law firms in the region, the law firm originally established by Miles Poindexter in 1891 in Walla Walla, according to family members and historical documents.
Even up until last May, Hayner still worked at the firm, Minnick Hayner Attorneys at Law, at 249 W. Alder St.
"He came in to the office every day he was able," said his son, Jim Hayner. He added that his father said he was proud to have helped establish and serve as trustee for numerous charitable trusts, including the Bonnie and Clifford Braden Trust, the J.L. Stubblefield Trust and the Harold and Helen Shepherd Trust.
"He had clients who were very charitable minded, and he was personally very charitable minded and he encourage his client to be charitable minded ... those foundations in the last 30 years have contributed over $30 million to local colleges and universities (and other charities)," Jim Hayner said.
Throughout his legal career, Hayner worked to establish the Walla Walla Regional Airport, fighting to keep the facility operating after World War II, working to modernized it in the decades to follow and serving on committees and boards associated with the facility.
Prior to his legal career, he served in World War II in the African and European theaters, and was one of the youngest field grade officers at the time, Jim Hayner said.
Though he was also highly decorated with a "chest full of medals," his son said he rarely spoke of those experiences.
"I remember when I was growing up, in the '50s and '60s there were lots of World War II movies going on. And I remember watching ‘The Bridge at Remagen.' And we were talking about it. And he casually walked over to the room and said, ‘Oh. Yes. I was there.' And he didn't go on because he didn't like war," Jim Hayner said.
Hayner was involved in the liberation of at least one Nazi concentration camp, but his son said his father never spoke of what he saw there.
Over the last several decades, Hayner served on numerous boards and committees, especially those in support of higher education. A month ago he was honored by officials with Washington State University for more than 50 years of uninterrupted giving.
He served as Walla Walla city attorney in the 1950s and was very involved in politics, especially the support of the political career of his wife, Jeannette Hayner, who served as a state legislator and state senator for nearly 20 years and was the first woman Washington State Senate majority leader.
"I think one of the things he was most proud of was that he was very supportive of and proud of Jeannette, of my mother ... Mom and dad were very politically minded, very active politically. And it was a very important part of their lives."
A memorial service will take place at 2 p.m. Friday at First Presbyterian Church.