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Obituary: Hanson, Elizabeth J.

HANSON, Elizabeth J. Community servant, gourmet cook, sports aficionado, tiger mom (long before that phrase was ever coined), devoted wife, and generous spirit died on Saturday, May 18, 2013. Born in Spokane in 1930, Elizabeth loved her city and over her 82 years served a broad range of the public institutions, from the humane society and Civic Theater to the Museum of Arts and Culture and her beloved Gonzaga University. She opened her home and heart to the young and the old. She had a way with animals and could not bear to see them mistreated. You can always tell a person’s mettle by the way a dog responds to them. Dogs loved her. At one point, she had six Irish setters. For a while, the family joke was that it took two dogs to replace one child who had departed for college. As one of the founding members of the Pets and People Program, she introduced pre-school children to dogs twice their size. She took the Irish Setters to nursing homes to warm the hearts of the frail and aged. She believed in education, all kinds of education from learning how to ride a horse, make a campfire, and knit a sweater to gaining an understanding of philosophy and science. She was born and died an Episcopalian but for more than three decades served Gonzaga University as a Regent, Trustee, and Trustee Emeritus. As chairman of Gonzaga’s Student Life Committee, she embraced the students, listening to their problems, inspiring them to be their best, and treating them to home cooked meals. She never missed a Bulldogs game. You would think they were all her children. She raised four children. She taught them to be independent thinkers, expand their horizons, and support their communities wherever they were. She taught them to swim and ski. She rooted for them at horse shows, wrestling matches, and debate tournaments. She insisted on graciousness in both victory and defeat. She taught them to balance check books, buy quality over quantity, and be grateful for the innumerable blessings that had been showered on them. By example, she taught them to work hard, accept responsibility, and remain loyal to friends. Forty-seven years ago she married the love of her life, Fred Hanson. She stood by his side in business ventures, providing wise counsel and unyielding support in bad times as well as good. Together, they traveled. They explored Europe, visiting Fred’s ancestral home in Denmark, the glass factories of Venice, and the Louvre in Paris. They took a hot air balloon ride over the French vineyards. They rode camels in Egypt, saw a lion kill in Kruger Park, and peered into the Kimberly Diamond Mine in South Africa. They clambered over Roman ruins, savored Italian artichokes and pasta, and toured the catacombs below the Vatican. And, they golfed, battling sand traps across America and Canada. She loved to cook. She did not have hotdogs and hamburgers for the Fourth of July. She spent months preparing her annual celebration which included sock eye salmon, leg of lamb, and roast beef. She had vegetables, salads, and at least a dozen desserts at the family lake home. The mystery was always how she could cook such rich and delicious food and stay so svelte. She remained unflappable in the face of the willywahs (the lightning storms that took out the electricity) on Coeur d’Alene Lake. No storm could rain out a celebration with family and friends. Elizabeth was predeceased by her eldest son, Jack Butler. She is survived by her devoted husband, Fred Hanson; her daughters Victoria Butler and Ann Scarborough; her son Eric Hanson; six grandchildren, two great-grandchildren; and her sister Harriet Fix. A memorial service will be held at St. John’s Cathedral on Wednesday, May 22, at 4:30 pm. It will be followed by a celebration of her life at the Manito Country Club. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you make a donation to your favorite charity. To view Elizabeth’s online memorial, please visit Arrangements entrusted to