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Remembering legendary teacher and coach Dick Hanson

Dick Hanson was born on July 11, 1934 in Grand Forks, North Dakota to Elmer and Wanda Hanson. He passed away on Jan. 26, 2016 at Little Hospice in Edina after a prolonged and courageous fight with Parkinson's Disease. 
 
Dick was a 1952 graduate of Grand Forks Central High School where he lettered in basketball and golf. After graduation, he went to the University of North Dakota and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics education in 1956. He continued at UND and earned his Master's degree in 1960. On August 21, 1954, Dick married Phyllis Hanson, also from Grand Forks. Dick's first teaching job was at St. Mary's School in Grand Forks, North Dakota, from 1952 through 1956. He taught math, coached football and coached basketball. He next taught at St. James High School in Grand Forks where he was an assistant football and basketball coach and was also the head golf coach. 
 
In 1960, Dick arrived at Burnsville High School. He taught math from 1960-1992. He insisted his classes included the spectrum of students' math abilities including developing curriculum for advanced math students so they could receive college credit. Dick won numerous teaching awards.  He was named the District 191 Teacher of the Year and Minnesota Teacher of the Year in 1968. He was the runner-up for National Teacher of the Year in 1969.  He earned the Presidential Award for Mathematics Teaching, Education Minnesota's Distinguished Educator Award, and had involvement with the National Mathematics Journal Board.  He also became an adjunct professor at St. Thomas, St. Olaf and Bemidji State and was a consultant for NASA and Hewlett Packard.  He presented at many local, state, and national conferences on mathematics.     
 
Dick was an assistant football coach at Burnsville from 1961-1968. In 1969, he became the head football coach at Burnsville, a position he held until 1993.  He guided the team to a 192-56 record, including 11 conference titles, 11 section championships and five state titles (1972, 1980, 1985, 1989 and 1991). The Burnsville football field was named after him in 2006.  He was inducted into the Grand Forks Center High School Fall of Fame, the Burnsville High School Hall of Fame, the Minnesota Football Coaches Hall of Fame, and was awarded the John Gagliardi Legacy Winner by the National Football Foundation.    
 
Dick volunteered his time with hospices, homeless shelters and brought his sheet music into senior living areas to play the piano. He enjoyed time with family and friends at the summer home on Whitefish Lake. He also enjoyed traveling with family and friends. He loved his role as father, grandpa, great grandpa, cherished his family, was comforted by friends, and continued teaching and coaching until his final days. 
 
Dick is survived by three children - Marty (Cheryl) Hanson of Eau Claire, WI; Stephen (Katherine) Hanson of Eden Prairie; and Karen (John) Tomes of Eagan; one brother, Robert Hanson of Montreal; seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his wife Phyllis. 
 
Memorial Mass is at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 30 at Pax Christi Catholic Church at 12100 Pioneer Trail in Eden Prairie. Memorial visitation is from 5-8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 29 at White Funeral Home at 12804 Nicollet Ave. in Burnsville. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be made to the National Parkinson's Foundation, Fairview Hospice, or the Hanson Scholarship Fund. 
 
 
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