Vernon Garfield Hanson

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Vernon Garfield Hanson , age 99, passed away on Friday, November 29, 2019, at Holly Ridge Manor in Starbuck, Minnesota, where he resided for the past seven years.  A memorial service will be held on Monday, December 30, 2019, in the Commons of Minnewaska Lutheran Home in Starbuck.  Visitation will be from 1PM until the service at 2PM.


Vernon donated his body to the Anatomy Bequest Program of the University of Minnesota Medical School, and a private burial will take place at a later time.


Born at home in Benson, Minnesota, on August 4, 1920, to parents Hans Bernard Hanson and Julia Christina (Chesterson) Hanson, Vernon was the sixth of seven children.  In 1930, when he was ten years old, his father was killed in a highway construction accident.  Vernon graduated from Benson High School in 1938.


In 1939-40, Vernon served in the Civilian Conservation Corps, a work relief program of the New Deal during the Great Depression.  He was an enrollee of Company 719 Camp S-51, at Camp Charles on Sullivan Lake near Brimson, Minnesota.  The work of the CCC in the nation's parks and forests, and Vernon's own experience in northern Minnesota, led to a lifetime of support for conservation programs and outdoor recreation opportunities for people of all ages.


He served in the U.S. Army from 1942-45, as a paratrooper in the 13th Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.  The 13th arrived in France in 1945, and returned to the U.S. later that year as European theatre operations ended.


Vernon was a skilled carpenter, learning the trade while living in Seattle, Washington, before and after WWII.  After his military service, he worked on large construction projects to include Ladd Air Force Base in Fairbanks, Alaska;  Garrison Dam on the Missouri River, North Dakota;  and Thule Air Base on Greenland, the U.S. Air Force's northernmost base.


Vernon married Ann (Borg) Meade in Benson on June 19, 1955.  Vernon, Ann and her daughter Rose began their family and mink operation on a farm in Minnewaska Township, between Starbuck and Glenwood.  The family grew to number seven, and the farm gardens grew accordingly.


He left mink farming and returned to carpentry and split stone masonry in 1975.  Eventually every building on the farm was built by Vernon.  While still raising mink, Vernon built the family's new home during evenings and odd hours as allowed when tending to stock.  In 1998 and approaching 80 years old, he completely deconstructed and salvaged materials from the original garage to construct a larger building on a new foundation.


Vernon was a creative builder and artist, whether the project was a job for wages or as a volunteer.  He rebuilt Starbuck's circus wagon, created many split-stone fireplaces in Pope County, worked on the restoration of Terrace Mill and the Bremness Gallery of the Ann Bickle Heritage House in Glenwood, and did not tire of carving and building wooden toys for his children and grandchildren.


His children presented Vernon with a touring bicycle upon 'retirement', and biking was a great fit for the man.  Besides zipping into town for a library book or groceries, he discovered that he greatly enjoyed bike tours.  His first overnight ride was the MS150 in 1991, from Hinckley to Duluth and back.  That ride led to many years of bike-touring Minnesota on day trips and week long rides, with children and grandchildren, friends from Pope County and friends made while touring.


Vernon loved the outdoors, whether canoeing, hunting, cross-country skiing or simply rambling.  He, along with wife Ann, passed that love to his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and the love for the adventure grew when it was shared.


Vernon was preceded in death by Ann, his wife of 55 years, in 2010;  parents, sisters Ethel Guinan, Ruth Given and Bernetta Aylward, and brothers Howard, Bernard and Clifford;  son Dean;  and son-in-law Dennis Gloege.


Survivors of Vernon include daughters Rose Meade and Julie Hanson, sons Harley (Patricia Dorn) and Ralph (Nina Battistini);  grandchildren Willa Hanson, Adam Hanson, Glenna Goldman, Nick Gloege, Jeremy (Rachel) Cochran and Shelby (Eric Lillehaugen) Cochran;  and great-grandchildren Noah Vernon Bender and Joey Bender.


Memorials to Vernon would be welcomed by the Terrace Mill Foundation and the Friends of Glacial Lakes State Park.

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