`She was a mentor'
October 2, 2008 · Updated 2:22 PM
SNOQUALMIE To many, Jeanne Hansen was Snoqualmie.
She was the city's former mayor, and during her 10-year
tenure, she led Snoqualmie out of the lean years of the 1980s. She
hired the city's first full-time administrator, giving up her salary to
do so, and she helped spur efforts to limit flood damage by
raising houses and widening the Snoqualmie River.
But to those who knew her, she was more than that. They
call her a sister, a friend and a mentor.
"She was definitely a role model absolutely, no
doubt about that," said Fritz Ribary, former mayor of North Bend.
"She was a mom, she was a mentor, she was a sister, she was always
there as an example."
Hansen suffered a brain aneurysm in her home last
Wednesday, Jan. 3. She was taken to Overlake Hospital Medical Center
in Bellevue, where she died later that night. She was 69 years old.
The Rev. Mary Brown, former pastor of the Snoqualmie
United Methodist Church, where Hansen had been a member for 38
years, said that throughout her life both in and out of politics
Hansen was always willing to lend a helping hand.
"She was always very gracious, I think, in her relations
with other people," Brown said of Hansen, who served as lay
leader of the church for 15 years. "She didn't say anything bad
about anybody and was always willing to try to reach an
understanding with people.
"Her faith was just evident in her everyday life in the sense
that [she] needed to give back to the community."
Hansen was born Aug. 4, 1931, in Medford, Mass.
She moved to Ellensburg in 1951 and married Leo Hansen in 1960
before settling in Snoqualmie in 1961. Her husband died in 1973.
She worked for the Weyerhaeuser Co. mill in Snoqualmie as its
human-resource manager, retiring in 1995. A City Council member for two
years, Hansen was elected mayor of Snoqualmie in 1987.
Three years later, current North Bend Mayor Joan
Simpson witnessed Hansen's gift for creating consensus among groups
with differing opinions.
"In the aftermath of the flood of 1990, there was a
community meeting where the citizens were understandably upset and
were very angry that nothing had been done," Simpson said. "She ran
the meeting with great sincerity She was firm, yet gracious to
everyone. I admired her ability to handle a tough situation."
On Saturday mornings, Hansen would open up City
Hall to residents, ready to hear whatever concerns they had, said
Dave Battey, who served on the city's Planning Commission and is
also a member of Snoqualmie United Methodist Church.
"She was the type of individual the folks would go to
if they had a problem or a frustration. You could see that on
Saturday mornings, when she had the open house at City Hall," he said.
And then there were the various organizations, boards
and committees she served on. She was a member and past
president of Mount Si Business and Professional Women. She sat on
the board of the Mount Si Senior Center, was instrumental in
creating the Snoqualmie Valley Youth Hub and was a King County
Public Hospital District 4 commissioner for 10 years, as well as being
involved with numerous other groups.
"I think she's an inspiration to younger women in their
30s and 40s, to see how much you can do," said Brown. "I think she
was a trailblazer for this Valley, and she was involved with so
many aspects of the community, from youth to seniors."
"She's probably been affiliated with just about every
organization, every group in the community," Ribary said. "She
has touched a lot of peoples' lives, that's for sure."
Snoqualmie Mayor Randy "Fuzzy" Fletcher, who
defeated Hansen in the 1997 mayoral election, said flags would be flown
at half-staff until her memorial service.
"She did a lot of good things for the city, and gave a lot of
herself to the city," he said. "She worked hard to improve the
city in ways that she thought would be best. She always
remained cheerful, even when times were tough."
Survivors include her son, Robert E. Hansen, of
Snoqualmie; a brother, Robert Mayo, of Athol, Mass.; and two sisters,
Edith Hancock, of Mount Pleasant, S.C., and Thelma Haron, of
Medford, Ore. A memorial service for Hansen will be held at 10:30
a.m. Saturday, Jan. 13, at the Snoqualmie Ridge Golf Club.
Arrangements are being made by Flintoft's Issaquah Funeral Home.
A donation account has been created at all Sno Falls
Credit Union locations under Hansen's name.