Erma Irene Hanson was born on May 27, 1932 in Brainerd MN to dairy farmers Jessie and William Hansen. As a child, she was always outdoors, having adventures with her siblings, Bill and Joni. She attended a one-room school house through 8th grade and was active in school, church and 4-H activities before graduating from high school, where she was named Wittiest Girl, in 1949. She received an associate’s degree in elementary education from St. Cloud Teachers College in 1951.
At St. Cloud, she met her beloved, Austin Stanley Hanson. They married in 1953. The pair taught briefly in Little Falls MN then, attracted by its fine school system, relocated to Hibbing MN, where Stan was a longtime art teacher. Irene was a stay-at-home mother, and often applied her teaching skills in that role. When her own kids were of school age, she taught English and art at Assumption Hall and worked for many years at B. Dalton Booksellers. She was a Sunday School teacher, volunteer and “banner lady” at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church and was a decades-long member of her bridge club.
Irene and Stan were wonderful grandparents, often on the road to see the kids in the Twin Cities and making their Hibbing home a happy destination for family visits. Throughout her life Irene always had creative projects going and was an avid reader. In retirement, she traveled, explored her Danish heritage, and reconnected with old friends and family. She wrote that this time was “more fun than I ever imagined. Sharing life stories, we still listen and learn from each other. I realized again that we are all alike in one way, and that is that we are each unique.”
Her last years were spent in assisted living in the Twin Cities, close to her children, enjoying visitors and sweets.
Irene was preceded in death by her parents, her husband Stan and many dear in-laws. She is survived by Bill, Joni, daughter Susan and her partner Al, son David and daughter-in-law Stephanie, and grandsons Austin, Andrew, Evan, William and Sun.
Private services will be held in Brainerd and in Hibbing. Memorials preferred to the American Association of University Women.
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