Minnard “Dusty” Hanson of Burr Ridge, Ill., died April 14, 2017, age 102.
Dusty was born on April 6, 1915, in Spring Valley, Wis., a predominantly Norwegian town of 950. His grandparents emigrated from Norway in the 1800s. Dusty and his brother spoke mainly Norwegian until they attended the local one-room schoolhouse, located two miles from home. From and early age, he demonstrated a love for team sports which became a lifelong passion. His Spring Valley basketball team qualified for the Wisconsin State Basketball Tournament, a remarkable achievement for such a small community.
In 1934, Dusty enrolled at Luther College, a Norwegian-Lutheran college in Decorah, Iowa. He supported his education by working on campus and at a variety of local jobs. While earning a BA degree, he continued his athletic activities winning 11 letters in football, basketball, and baseball. His basketball team was the conference champion his senior year. His football team was the Iowa Conference champion as well. His accomplishments were rewarded by his induction into the Luther College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1978.
After graduation in 1938, he was hired by Preston High School in Minnesota to teach history and coach all sports. During this interval (1938-41) his football teams won their district championship. Dusty played summer baseball with a variety of teams during his summer breaks; one notable teammate was Andy Pafko who went on to star in the Major Leagues with the Cubs, Dodgers, and Braves. Dusty enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1942. He served as a pharmacists mate in California, the Aleutian Islands, and Pearl Harbor. Subsequently he was a Lieutenant Junior Grade working with amphibious landing craft at Tarawa. He was honorably discharged in 1946 as a Lieutenant.
In 1946-47, Dusty was employed by The Great Northern Railroad in the reservation department of a local hotel in Glacier National Park. He met his wife, Carol Ronning, as she arrived at the park to work as the hotel nurse; they took a walk and celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary last May as a result! They have three daughters: Beth Hanson Afflebach, Chrissie Hanson Payne, and Paula Hanson. There are three granddaughters: Charity Ellis, Britta Marmon, and Margit Vogele; and three great grandchildren: Desmond Wilkinson, and Maddox and Bo Marmon.
Dusty and Carol lived in LaGrange for 28 years before moving to Godair Park in Burr Ridge. They had been active at Christ Church of Oak Brook for over 30 years. Dusty also served on the board of the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum for many years, and travelled to Norway with Carol five times (and included the family to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary).
Dusty and Carol owned Schweidler and Mewherter, an office, art and school supply store for 44 years, assisted by Chrissie. During this time, the store became a local landmark until its sale in 2004. After retirement at 89, Dusty was a volunteer “Red Coat” escort at Hinsdale Hospital for ten years and assisted in the social hours at Bing Bruwaert House.
Dusty and Carol have been associated with KB House for over 36 years, initially living in Godair Park and subsequently the “Big House.”
Dusty celebrated his 102nd birthday with family and friends this past weekend and enjoyed the hoisting of the Chicago Cubs’ World Series Pennant. He has been a devout Christian and thankful for the many blessings he has enjoyed.