Gary Arthur Hanson was born in St Paul, Minnesota, on September 3rd, 1938. He was the only child of Harvey Arthur and Helen Lucille (Erickson) Hanson and was dearly loved by his parents! As a kid, Gary attended Brimhall Elementary and then Breck Military School where he developed life long friendships. Gary adored Red Fox, his horse and Sport, his dog, put on puppet shows at the St Paul Library with his friend, Jerry Juhl (who went on to be a writer for The Muppet Show) and enjoyed spending time with his Hanson cousins. Gary was baptized and confirmed at First Methodist Church in St. Paul, MN.
Throughout his life, Gary was somewhat of an entrepreneur. He owned a gas station at University & Bedford in St Paul. He and Karen moved to AZ and bought Ranch Wagon Foods where they made and distributed prickly pear jellies and candies. But his main passion was to follow in his father's and grandfather's footsteps by working at Old Home Foods. Old Home's roots go back to the original dairy company that Gary's grandfather, Peter Arthur Hanson, started back in 1912, the days of horse and buggy deliveries. For many years, Gary loved driving his yellow Old Home Peterbilt back and forth to Green Bay, WI, to pick up the cottage cheese. He was also the Fleet Manager, in charge of purchasing and maintaining the fleet of 40 trucks.
Gary was passionate about all things dairy! His milk bottle collection exceeded 300 in number at one point along with lots of unique and fun memorabilia. In addition to his passion for milk bottles and dairies, Gary also spent a lot of time researching his family history, way back in the days before the internet. He was often found at the library or historical society tracking down information and collecting it on his very "old school" computer. He passed down the Hanson family legacy to his children with pride!
Sixty years ago, in May of 1963, Karen Rae Torgerson stopped at his gas station and Gary immediately knew that she was "the one!" They were married in less than a month, moved to AZ and then started their family with the birth of their first child, Kari Elizabeth. They moved back to MN and settled in Stillwater, where they welcomed their second child, Kristin Tori, 4 years later. They rounded out the family with their son, Erik Arthur, four years after that. Family has always been a very important part of Gary's life and he was very involved with his 10 grandchildren as they came along and his four great grandchildren. Later in life, Gary and Karen enjoyed many good times in their motorhome, especially at Burlington Bay on the North Shore, usually surrounded by the grandkids.
Despite being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease 19 years ago, Gary continued to live a full life for many years and as the illness progressed, he adapted to the limitations with grace and courage. When he became less mobile, Gary filled his days and kept his mind sharp by playing solitaire on the computer, reading and rereading his Arizona Highways Magazine collection (1,020 issues since 1938) and listening to his cassette recordings of Garrison Keillor and Prairie Home Companion. As many people know, his entire day was always scheduled around Jeopardy on TV! It became a well-known fact to all that you didn't interrupt him between 4:30 and 5:00 pm and no doctor appointments could be scheduled in that time slot!!
Gary never lost his sense of humor! While living at Croixdale and Boutwells, Gary was always a favorite resident, especially with the one-liners that he continued to come up with!
We know that God works all things for good... Gary and Karen spent the past 3 and a half years together at Croixdale Assisted Living in Bayport. This past fall, Gary's physical needs increased and he was moved to Boutwells Landing facility in Stillwater. Boutwells only had a single room available, so, after 60 years of living together, sadly, Gary and Karen had to live in separate places. They continued to visit each other as often as possible. On January 10th, Karen moved into Boutwells on the rehab floor. She and Gary were so blessed to be able to see each other once or twice a day during what would be Gary's last week on Earth!
Keep on truckin,' Yellowbird! You will forever be in our hearts!!