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Patrolman Thomas Hanlin

Thomas James Hanlin was born August 21, 1906, to John and Eva Hanlin, in Tacoma, Washington. He was the third of seven children: Nelda J., Paul, Thomas, Margaret, Gene, Marion, and Helen.  Hanlin attended school in South Prairie and graduated from Buckley High School. 


At 17-years-old, Hanlin started work at the Northern Pacific Railway Company as a brakeman.  He left the company in 1925 and worked as a brakeman at St. Paul and Tacoma Lumber Company for 12 years. 


Hanlin married Francis B. Pratt on March 8, 1928, in Pierce County.  The couple raised a son, Terrill Thomas. 


Patrolman Hanlin was commissioned with the Washington State Highway Patrol on August 17, 1937, under the command of Chief William Cole, assigned to Bellingham. 


Three years after his commission, Patrolman Hanlin was involved in a serious collision on the Mount Baker Highway near Deming.  Patrolman Hanlin was responding to a two-car collision in his paddy wagon when he lost control on the snow-blanketed pavement and flipped. 


Initially his injuries were believed to be minor – mainly bumps and bruises – but diagnosis later revealed he suffered from a head injury.  Patrolman Hanlin underwent surgery at the Mayo Clinic Institute in Rochester, Minnesota, to remove a blood clot in his brain.  Recovery took six months. 


Patrolman Hanlin returned to Washington and was reassigned to Tacoma in 1942, where he was involved in the schoolboy safety program. 


Patrolman Hanlin died May 26, 1945, in Tacoma, at the age of 39, after fighting an illness for several months.  His death occurred nearly five years after his collision. He was survived by his wife and son. 


Patrolman Hanlin was an uncle to Retired Trooper Don Pratt, great uncle to Trooper Cliff Pratt (Homeland Security Division, Bomb Squad Commander), and first cousin to Retired CVEO Fred Soper. Patrolman Hanlin’s widow, Fran Hanlin, went to work for the patrol as a secretary in District 1 after his death. Fran passed away on January 5, 1996.

Washington State Highway Patrol

Patrolman Thomas Hanlin
End of Watch – May 26, 1945
Gone But Never Forgotten

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