Floral 26

Rebecca E. Hanson

August 21, 1924 ~ August 8, 2021 (age 96)


REBECCA ELIZABETH (Becky) HANSON, 96, passed on August 8, 2021, at the Meadowbrook Health Center in Urbana.

A celebration of her life will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, October 10, 2021, at the Garden Pavilion at Meadowbrook Park, 2808 S. Race St., Urbana.

Becky’s daughters considered her a “one-woman friendship force” -- she was known for her bright, cheerful spirit, her love of people, and her commitment to helping others. She maintained her upbeat attitude, appreciation of people and simple pleasures, and youthful curiosity until her last days. 

Becky was born August 21, 1924, in Greenleaf, Kansas, to Frances Willard Hanson and Henry Hanson. Her family lived in several small towns in northeastern Kansas, eventually settling in Axtell, KS, where Becky attended Axtell High School. As a high school senior she met her future husband, John B. “Jack” Hanson, the brother of her friend and classmate. Becky and Jack were married at Camp Haan, CA, on January 30, 1943, and two weeks later Jack was sent overseas to Northern Africa as a U.S. Army captain.

After Jack’s discharge from the service, the couple moved to Boulder, CO, where Jack finished his bachelor’s degree, and then to Pullman, WA, for his graduate studies. Becky and Jack settled in Champaign in 1953, where Jack taught plant science at the University of Illinois and Becky began her years as an excellent mother to three daughters, devoted wife, loyal and fun-loving friend, dedicated church member, and generous community volunteer. 

She earned a degree in Early Childhood Education from Parkland College and used her considerable skills with small children as a teacher at Colonel Wolfe School. Becky’s list of volunteer work was long: Planned Parenthood, Meals on Wheels, the Crisis Nursery and Hospice at Mercy Hospital, and with the U of I International Hospitality Committee, where she started ESL classes for mothers and their preschool children. For more than 65 years Becky was an active member of the Community United Church of Christ. She and Jack shared a love of singing and had a repertoire of favorite tunes that they shared at parties, singalongs, and with residents of the Champaign County Nursing Home.

Becky grew up in tiny towns in northeastern Kansas, and Jack, in a tiny town in northeastern Colorado, but in their adult lives they traveled extensively.  A memorable experience for the Hanson family was a year-long sojourn in Adelaide, Australia, from 1959-60. Jack did sabbatical research, and Becky ably settled her family into Australian life – of course she made many new friends. Becky and Jack also spent sabbaticals in Bristol and Norwich, England, and in Washington DC. They frequently visited their daughters in Galena, IL, Seattle, WA, and Brussels, Belgium, and hosted “Grandparent Camp” in Urbana for special times with the grandchildren, who adored their grandparents.

A superb and welcoming hostess, Becky invited Jack’s graduate students to dinner parties and holiday gatherings; many of these students became close friends, giving Becky and Jack connections all over the United States and, literally, the world.

In 1998 Becky and Jack moved to Clark-Lindsey Village in Urbana, where they spent many satisfying years. Becky volunteered on numerous committees at Clark-Lindsey and organized several readers’ theater performances.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Jack, in 2006; a stillborn son, Daniel; and her parents, brother Charles, and sister Carolyn. Becky is survived by daughters Emily Painter (Gregg), Elizabeth “Betsy” Hanson (Richard Pulkrabek) and Lois Hanson (Geert Glas); grandchildren Elizabeth, Anna, Andrew, Colin, Rebecca, Sander, and Eva; and great-grandchildren Alice and Elliotte.

Donations in her memory can be made to the Community United Church of Christ, 805 S. 6th St., Champaign 61820. https://community-ucc.org/ or to the local food bank of your choice, in Becky Hanson’s name.

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