BRANDON–Barbara Lane Hanson, age 83, passed away peacefully on Friday, August 28, 2020, at home in Brandon, surrounded by her loving family.
Born in Lexington, MA, on August 3, 1937, she was the daughter of Paul and Ruth (Titus) Hanson. While Barbara attended Bennington College for a couple of years and finished up her bachelor’s degree through Harvard University Extension School, she was not one to be defined by school experiences or degrees. Rather, she was a life-long, self-directed learner.
Barbara was fiercely loyal and devoted to her family. Her perspective on the world was very much informed by her experience nurturing and caring for her younger sister, Lois, who had significant developmental disabilities from birth. At a time when institutionalization was the norm, Barbara was key in enabling her family to go against society’s expectations and keep Lois at home. She supported Lois beautifully and steadfastly throughout her life, using her keen perceptiveness and incredible resourcefulness to broaden her sister’s opportunities and deepen her comfort. For several years Barbara ran a workshop in Concord, MA for adults with disabilities, which Lois attended with her, allowing many other individuals and families to also benefit from her unique combination of skills, insight, and determination.
While Barbara didn’t meet the multi-generation test for being a “real” Vermonter, she had life-long ties with the Northeast Kingdom, and the combination of her quiet determination, almost limitless resourcefulness and her perceptive but laconic manner of speech meant she was often perceived as a native. She was incredibly self-reliant and handy. In the 1960s and 70s, she and her father designed and built a finely-crafted if simple camp in West Glover, which remains a special place for the whole family. She never failed to put her values into action, including committing to a vegetarian diet after a formative experience in college and applying a disciplined approach to tending to her health without the aid of medical professionals. She was unconstrained by the gender expectations of her times, and could just as well be found undertaking any of a wide variety of tasks and creative endeavors, including gardening, weaving, refinishing old furniture, changing out the brakes on her car, or re-roofing her house. She was a free thinker, and a true model for her nieces on many levels.
Well-practiced in graceful and generous accompaniment of her sister, Barbara provided equally loving care for her parents at the family home in Massachusetts during their final years, then moved to Hyde Park, Vermont in 2006, to be closer to her remaining family and her camp. In 2017, she moved to Brandon, into an accessory apartment at the home of her niece, Nita. She treasured feeling “tucked in” with family and especially delighted in watching her beloved grand-nephew, Thomas, grow. She also took pleasure in jigsaw puzzles and walks in the neighborhood.
Barbara lived a quiet life, and had an old-fashioned way of enjoying the world around her. Music was important to her; an avid listener and talented cellist in the classical tradition, she also savored the lighter joy of folk music. She was a repository of family stories and history. Although overall quite serious and duty-bound, she often had a twinkle in her eye and conveyed a deep appreciation of the simple gifts life had to offer.
Barbara was predeceased by her parents, her brother David and her sister Lois. She left behind two nieces who looked up to her immensely: Chandra Hanson and Nita Hanson (David Martin); grandnephew, Thomas Martin; sister-in-law, Patricia Hanson (d. 5/29/21), and many cousins.
A private memorial service will be held at a later time. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Intervale Center (www.intervale.org or 180 Intervale Rd., Burlington, VT 05401) or L’Arche USA (www.larcheusa.org or 310 SW 4th Ave., Suite 840, Portland, OR 97204)..
Arrangements were under the direction of Miller & Ketcham Funeral Home in Brandon.