Walter A. Hahn, 89, of South Yarmouth, Mass., died July 1, 2010, at home.

Born Walter August Hermann Hahn on Dec. 21, 1920, in Wittenberg, Germany, he accompanied his mother, Frieda, and sister, Gertrude, to the U.S. in 1925 to start a new life with family and friends in upstate New York. His father, August, later joined the family there.

Hahn attended school in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and graduated from Arlington High School before he enrolled at St. Lawrence University (SLU) in Canton, N.Y. He played center on the SLU football team and was president of the SAE fraternity house on campus.

In the summer of 1942 he met his wife-to-be, Muriel "Mim" Decker of Albany, N.Y., who was attending summer school in Canton while pursuing her degree at Skidmore College. After graduating as a chemistry major, Hahn enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and became a pilot trainer on B-29 aircraft in World War II. He served in the Pacific as a flight instructor, since combat was not an option for a foreign-born lieutenant in the military.

On a 24-hour pass, he and Muriel were married in Tampa, Fla., in 1945.

After the war he attended the Harvard Business School, where he majored in finance. He subsequently worked for DuPont and, in 1955, began a long career with the Colgate-Palmolive Co., for which he became chief financial officer. At Colgate, he was instrumental in expanding the business into new ventures, which served the company well for many years. With his retirement in 1981, he and his wife -- longtime residents of Westport -- moved to Chatham on Cape Cod, then to Stamford and finally returned to the Cape in 2005.

Hahn served as president of the St. Lawrence University Alumni Executive Council and as a trustee of his alma mater in the 1960s and '70s. During his retirement he served on the board of directors of Grolier Inc. in Danbury and was a member of the Finance Committee of the Town of Chatham on Cape Cod.

An avid reader and science scholar, he enjoyed an intense desire to understand the world around him. He owned a private plane for many years and traveled extensively with his wife of 62 years, Muriel, who died in 2007.

Hahn is survived by his son, Peter, and daughter-in-law, Kathleen of Chatham, Mass., and Wakefield, R. I.; two grandchildren, Julia Hahn Zirinsky of Washington, D.C., and Peter Dickson Hahn of Wakefield, R.I.; and his brother, Harry, and sister-in-law, Lois of Tampa, Fla.

Funeral services will be private. A memorial service is planned at Thirwood Place in South Yarmouth, Mass., in August.

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