Mary Sveen Hanson

Mary Ione Sveen Hanson, 87, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, passed away peacefully on July 3, 2022. Mary was born in Hudson, Wisconsin on August 25, 1934. She graduated from Hudson High School in 1952 (having read every book in the Hudson library) and received her bachelor’s degree in Medical Technology in 1956 from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Mary was married to her beloved husband of 63 years, Dr. Jerome Russell Hanson, on September 1, 1956 in Hudson, Wisconsin. Mary and Jerry were high school sweethearts whose seven decades of “dating” serve as an enduring and inspiring love story for their family and many friends. While still “courting,” Maber and Jaber (as they affectionately referred to each other) jointly purchased a red canoe and promised to “buy the other one out” if the relationship didn’t last. The red canoe accompanied them on their many adventures across the country. Their family is happy to report that a red canoe still resides at the Hanson cabin in Wisconsin where Mary and Jerry enjoyed many leisurely sunset paddles well into their golden years.

Mary spent summers during college working at Yellowstone National Park and the historic Old Faithful Inn. After graduation, she worked in medical research labs at the University of Wisconsin and contributed to the work done by American psychologists to investigate childhood development, nature, and the importance of love. This would be a calling that eventually influenced Mary’s greatest work: nurturing her own children and grandchildren with “loads” of love.

Mary and Jerry moved many times in their early marriage while Jerry received his medical training. After Jerry graduated with his M.D. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison (1961), they lived in Allentown, Pennsylvania (1961-62, internship), in Whiteriver, Arizona Fort Apache Indian Reservation (1962-64, commission in the Indian Health Service during the Vietnam War), and in Rochester, Minnesota (1964-70, residency in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the Mayo Clinic) before moving to Colorado Springs in 1970 with their adorable children Kirsten and Peter.

In addition to being the “heart center” of her family, Mary’s philanthropic contributions of time and service to her community, combined with her background in medical technology and her role as a medical spouse, eventually laid the groundwork for her career in the American Medical Association Alliance (AMAA). The AMAA supports the medical family from training to retirement - something about which Mary had practical experience as well as tender compassion. After being actively involved at the local and state levels, Mary served as the AMAA national president in 1993-94. To honor Mary’s love of literature, she selected Dr. Maya Angelou to deliver a keynote presentation at her inauguration. Mary was known for her diplomacy as well as her enthusiasm as she visited all 50 states on behalf of the AMAA during her tenure as president.

Mary was truly a Norwegian Renaissance woman. It seemed she could do it all with both humility and class. Her interests and expertise varied widely from playing cards (she was an ace at Bridge) to playing music (saxophone, glockenspiel, and piano) to honing crafts like Rosemaling (Scandinavian decorative painting) and knitting, to her involvement in sports like golf (she has several holes-in-one to her name!) and competitive sports-watching: she was a huge fan of Larry Bird, the Denver Nuggets, Green Bay Packers, Denver Broncos, and of course the Wisconsin Badgers as well as the the PGA/LPGA golf tours.

Mary rivaled Julia Child in the kitchen, and she and Jerry belonged to decades-long “gourmet” groups with friends where her flair for preparing delicious dishes (alongside her ever-present and cheerful sous-chef Jerry) was surpassed only by her warm and fun-loving entertaining style. Mary and Jerry also belonged to several social clubs including the Broadmoor Golf Club and the Cheyenne Mountain Country Club - where over 50 years, many cherished friendships and memories were made. Mary and Jerry were passionate southwestern art-collectors, and she enjoyed bringing home little treasures from their world travels (most notably an authentic lefse stick from her ancestral home in Lillehammer, Norway).

Mary was an avid reader, and all of us were forever in awe of the thousands of books she and Jerry read and archived in their home library. Mary was a member of the 125-year old Colorado Springs Woman’s Literary Club where she contributed many insightful, well-researched papers and served as president from 2011-13. Never without a stack of books in constant rotation, Mary would pack big boxes of books to take on road trips like one might pack snacks.

Mary’s light shone brightest in the company of Jerry and their children and grandchildren. Mary and Jerry started spending a long sojourn at the cabin in Wisconsin every fall during their golden retirement years creating many happy memories. Mary could cook a gourmet meal out of the cabin’s tiny kitchen for visiting friends or easily entertain the grandkids with popcorn and root beer. She showed us how to relax with a good book, take a meandering walk in nature to observe the gifts of the Northwoods, and listen to college football on the radio when the TV couldn’t get a signal. Mary was a woman of priorities with her greatest “priority” being taking excellent care of her family. Known as a woman of classic style and modest equipoise, Mary’s family and myriad friends will deeply miss her lovely presence, keen intellect, and boundless faith and grace.

Mary was preceded in death by her parents Haakon and Mabel Sveen and husband Dr. Jerome Russell Hanson (who passed away in April of 2020). Mary is survived by her daughter Kirsten Hanson of Colorado Springs, son Dr. Peter (Natalie) Hanson of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and six grandsons (Hunter Hanson, Conrad Torke, Coover Torke, Chase (Isabel) Hanson, Blake Hanson, and Zeb Hanson) as well as her sister Helen Mickelson, nephew Brian (Bob Mazza) Mickelson, niece Lisa (Rod) Bogart and great-nephew Zach Bogart, and niece Nancy (Dominick) Alfano. A Celebration of Life to honor both Mary and Jerry is scheduled at First Lutheran Church in Colorado Springs (1515 N. Cascade Avenue), their home congregation for over 50 years, on Friday, August 12, 2022 at 1:00 p.m. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, memorials to honor Mary and Jerry be directed to First Lutheran Church to support the mission and service they held dear to their hearts throughout their lives.

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