On Jan. 23, 2021 Robert John Hanson (Bob) succumbed to a long battle with the effects of Parkinson’s disease at 88 years of age. He was born on April 15, 1932 in Lewistown, Mont. to Roy and Alice (Ragland) Hanson.
Known as Jack, until he entered the Navy, he and his brother Lee started life on a 2,000-acre ranch in the Missouri River Breaks of east central Mont. known then as now as the Horse Camp. As soon as they were old enough the boys tended the family cattle while their father ran the horse operation providing remounts for the U.S. Army. The family sold the Horse Camp and purchased two smaller ranches in the Billings area. The headquarters was on the Yellowstone River and the other was on Blue Creek, south of town. A sister, Katherine, was added to the family.
He attended elementary school in a one room schoolhouse on Blue Creek and then high school at Billings Senior High School. In high school he excelled academically, played football, and ran track. When he was 9 years old began spending summers back in the ‘Breaks’ doing the hard work of a ranch hand and cowboy for various small ranches with which the family had a relationship.
On June 6, 1950 he enlisted in the United States Navy as soon as graduated from high school. Ten days later the Korean War started. He spent his tour of enlistment aboard LST 758 in the Korean Theater of Operations, rising rank to the rating of Gunner's Mate 2nd Class. For his service he was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, China Service Medal, Korean Service Medal (4 stars) and the Good Conduct Medal. He always remembered his service with great fondness. While home on leave he met and dated Hazel Francis Roth and on his next leave they were married on July 6, 1953, beginning over 52 years of loving marriage. He went back to sea and she stayed with his family on the ranch until his ship was home ported at San Diego and she joined him. He mustered out the Navy on April 14, 1954 and, using the GI Bill, enrolled at Montana State University.
He graduated from MSU with a bachelor of science in agriculture and went to work for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the county extension service. He moved through several small communities in western Mont. ending finally as the county extension agent for Ravalli County at Hamilton. He and Fran produced four children; Robert Jr, Richard, Peggy and Penny, this time. He assisted farmers and ranchers in the Bitterroot Valley, assisted the Forest Service in firefighting operations, and his favorite which was advising the 4-H Club in farm youth development, agriculture education, summer camp coordination, specialty demonstrations of skills on the nearby Missoula TV stations, an innovation at the time. His accomplishments in the community led to his hiring by a local bank as an agricultural loan officer and his second career was launched. In 1969 he was recruited by that National Bank of Commerce, later Rainier Bank, in the state of Wash. and he moved the family to Kennewick, Wash. He rose in his specialty of agriculture loans due to his knowledge of agribusiness and an abiding affinity for farmers and ranchers. He was moved to Wilbur and then Quincy, Wash. as assistant manager in both branches. When Rainier was acquired by the Bank of America he was moved to the regional office in Wenatchee to head a team dedicated to salvaging large, troubled agri-business loans. He retired from the position of assistant vice president in 1989.
He and Fran moved back “home” to Montana, first at St. Marie and then Lewistown and began to enjoy a much-deserved retirement. They lived in Lewistown for over 20 years departing in 2013 when failing health intervened. They moved to Columbia, to be closer to quality medical care and their daughter, Peggy. He lost the love of his life in 2015 after Fran passed away of 89 years of age. In 2017 he was moved to the Missouri Veteran’s Home in Mexico. Bob (‘Jack’ still to his relatives) was a lifelong fisherman, bird hunter, rock picker and elk hunter. The species of fish did not matter; brook trout and rainbows in western Montana, catfish and walleye on the Missouri River or any species of salmon or halibut in Alaska. Before Alaska Neah Bay, Sequim and Vancouver Island helped with his salmon fishing addiction. Throughout his work life vacation time was fishing time. When not on vacation spare time was devoted to kids sports, the boy scouts and his fraternal and service organizations, Lions Club, Elks Club, American Legion, Rotary, or if that was not enough golf, bowling, bridge or pinochle. In his retirement years he looked forward to elk season when his sons would get away and return to hunt with him somewhere in Montana. This included the Missouri River Breaks of his youth where stories of the good times and the hard times spent there would leak out.
Bob was known throughout his life for his quick wit, his objective and considered advice and his willingness to pitch into work on a farm or a ranch just because he was needed for whatever task that he could help with; or
when a fourth was needed for bridge or pinochle.
He is preceded in death by his parents; his brother, Lee; his sister, Katherine; and his beloved Francis.
He is survived by sons, Robert Jr., of Anchorage, Alaska and Richard, of Winnett Mont.; daughters, Peggy, of Clark, and Penny, of Spokane, Wash.; grandsons Robert III, Michael, Thomas and Nickolas; granddaughters Jessica and Kimberly and three great-grandchildren.
Arrangements are under the direction of Parker-Millard Funeral Service & Crematory, 12 E. Ash St., Columbia, MO 65203; (573) 449-4153.
Condolences may be left online for the family at www.parkermillard.com.