Betty Hansen, age 90, died peacefully on July 14, 2020, in hospice at the Northfield Hospital Long Term Care Center. Her life began with the Great Depression and ended in the pandemic of this year. Betty was the youngest of six children born to Danish immigrants James and Astrid Beck, who raised their children in the thriving multicultural community of South Chicago. Their touchstone was Golgotha Lutheran Church. This parish nourished Betty’s Christian education, musical experience, and a rich life focused on service to God and others. Betty graduated from Hirsch High School at age 16, subsequently obtained a secretarial certificate, and studied accounting at the McCormick School of Commerce. While attending a Lutheran Bible Camp, she met Robert “Bob” Hansen, a handsome bookish seminary student. The subsequent engagement paralleled Bob’s call to the ministry, and their 1952 wedding launched a lifetime of partnership in Christian service that took them to parishes in Oregon, Wis.; Selma, Calif.; Northfield, Minn.; and Harmony Minn. In 2008, Bob and Betty moved to the Northfield Retirement Community (NRC). Bob died in 2013, and Betty entered hospice in April 2020.
Betty brought her gifts of creativity, organization, and deep faith to her role as a pastor’s wife. She shone as a community builder and hostess, and many will best remember her sense of humor that kept people (and her husband) laughing and delighted. At church services, Betty shared her musical skills as a piano player and junior choir director. Her love of books was able to flower as she deftly organized the libraries of several parishes. During her years in Harmony, Betty was active in the Southeastern Libraries Cooperating (SELCO) system and was a delegate to the 1981 national convention. At the NRC, Betty served as Chapel Librarian.
Betty also used her secretarial training during the many years she worked as the administrative secretary in St. Olaf’s lively Religion Department and Paracollege offices. After moving to Harmony, Betty worked in the administration office at the Harmony Hospital. Those years in Harmony included a serious brain hemorrhage in 1985. Betty was able to surmount the many challenges to body and spirit, and her post-stroke years were active and full, with travels both domestic and international; notably, two more trips to Scandinavia when she accompanied Bob and the Luren Singers of Decorah, Iowa.
Betty was the last of her blended family, and the Becks of South Chicago now pass into history. She is survived by her children Mark Bach (Kathie) of Chelan, Wash.; Rebecca Hansen (Ralph Westcott) of Minneapolis, Lois Hansen (Matt Caemmerer) of Leavenworth, Wash.; Sharon Geldaker (Stan Berntson) of Eugene, Oreg.; and her five grandchildren Tristan, Morgan, Stefan, Kate, and Marta. Betty was preceded in death by her husband Bob, her siblings Larry and James Beck Jr, Margaret Johnson, Agnes DeLaurant, and Myrna Kilborn; and Beck family friend MaryLu Rainsberger. Betty is now in the comfort of those dearly loved ones.
Please remember Betty when taking a walk in a gentle rain, when passing along a recommendation of a good book (preferably a biography), when facing down a ruthless pair of eyes over a card game, or when singing a rowdy song out of the 1930s and ‘40s South Chicago.
Due to the pandemic, a celebration of life is not planned. Betty’s children smile at the thought of the lively celebration that is even now taking place in Heaven. It is surely blessed and joyous.
For any other memorials, please make a donation to the charity of your choice.
Arrangements by Bierman Funeral Home and Crematory. biermanfuneralhome.com.