BRANDON–Patricia Louise Hanson, age 83, passed away peacefully at her home in Brandon on Saturday, May 29, 2021, after a valiant effort to keep at bay the blood cancer (myelodysplastic syndrome) she knew would eventually take her life. She spent her last week’s saying many intentional goodbyes and her last days in the constant company of her closest family.
Born in Colorado Springs, CO, on December 4, 1937, she was the daughter of William and Patricia (Cogan) Van de Graaff. Her early years were spent living in various places as part of a military family (including being among the first civilians to live on base in Yokohama, Japan after WWII); being an “army brat” helped her develop much-admired qualities of independence, adaptability, and a great depth and breadth of perspective.
After high school (Colorado Springs, CO, 1955), Pat earned her B.A. from Stanford University (class of 1959). Graduating early to join her sister in Paris (June 1958), she studied both French and Russian, earning a Diplome from the Ecole des Langues Orientales (1961). She then continued her studies at Harvard University, where she met David A. Hanson of Lexington, MA, whom she married (March 31, 1963), eventually earning a Ph.D. in Slavic Linguistics (two kids and quite a few years later). She briefly taught Polish and Russian, but largely focused on her family. In the late 1980s, when it was still an unusual career path for women, Pat trained to become a computer programmer. She had a sharp mind, which she always put to good use!
Pat and David lived a full life together in Massachusetts (Concord and Lexington), and later in the Waterville, Maine area. They worked well as a team and enjoyed many common adventures beyond raising a family, including spending a year together in Poland on a Fulbright Scholarship, building a solar house in the early 1980s (when it was quite a novel concept), and working side-by-side in a very active sister city relationship with Kotlas, Russia, during their time in Maine. Although Pat lost David to multiple myeloma in 1996, she soldiered on and has worked doggedly toward their shared ideals. In the 50th reunion book for Stanford in 2009, she reported her Current Life Motto as “Walk quietly on the earth, leaving your imprint in people’s memory, rather than on the environment.”
In 2000, she set down roots close to her older daughter in Burlington VT, building an energy-efficient solar house and becoming the first person in Vermont to purchase a hybrid Prius for private use. She found new “family” there by befriending two young girls who had recently immigrated from Bosnia; they and their mother became life-long friends.
Pat moved to Brandon in 2009 to be near her younger daughter, building yet another solar house (this time aiming for net zero, using both photovoltaic solar and geothermal technologies); after a few years, she traded out her Prius for a 100% electric Chevy Bolt, charged primarily by the sun. She enjoyed taking part in the Everybody Wins reading program at Neshobe. She also got in on the Dinners with Love program practically from its inception and supported it tirelessly, delivering meals to hospice patients and their families over many years, until she was no longer able to do so. Along with pursuing a passion for genealogy that stemmed from the discovery of some ancestors’ correspondence from the 1800s, she enjoyed gardening, finding new and interesting recipes, playing Mah Jong with a local group of friends, and doing both crossword puzzles and kakuro. She most especially loved being a grandmother to young Thomas, who named her “Mrs. Cat Collector,” as the yard she cultivated seemed to draw cats from all around. She was famous in the neighborhood (and beyond) for wearing Birkenstocks all year (without socks, of course), even when snow shoveling.
Pat is survived by her two daughters, Chandra Hanson of Marianna, FL and Nita Hanson (David Martin) of Brandon; one grandson, Thomas Martin; her sister, Cherokee (Ted) Randolph; special nieces Cherokee and Stephanie Randolph and their wonderful children, whom she loved to pieces; and many long-time friends who are like family.
Always looking to make a contribution, Pat has donated her body to the UVM School of Medicine’s Anatomical Gift program. You may visit her tribute page at https://pathanson.muchloved.com; a memorial service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Dinners With Love (P.O. Box 322, Brandon, VT 05733 http://www.dinnerswithlove.org), to VNA & Hospice of the Southwest Region (7 Albert Cree Dr., Rutland, VT 05701 https://www.vermontvisitingnurses.org/support-hospice), or to the Committee on Temporary Shelter (P.O. Box 1616, Burlington, VT 05402 https://cotsonline.org)
Arrangements are in the care of Miller & Ketcham Funeral Home in Brandon.