Ouray City Councilor Gary Hansen Dies After Battle With Cancer
by Watch Staff
Jul 11, 2013 | 6970 views | 0 0 comments | 459 459 recommendations | email to a friend | print
GARY HANSEN spent much of his decade-long retirement in Ouray happily exploring his mountainous backyard with friends and family. (Courtesy photo)
GARY HANSEN spent much of his decade-long retirement in Ouray happily exploring his mountainous backyard with friends and family. (Courtesy photo)
slideshow

OURAY - Ouray City Councilor Gary Hansen, 66, passed away peacefully at his home in Ouray on Friday night, July 5, after a heroic 13-month battle with cancer. 

Hansen was nearing the end of a four-year term on council, and was Mayor Pro Tem, when he died. Despite his illness, he remained active on council until shortly before his death, appearing at a meeting just three weeks ago for a key vote regarding the implementation of Amendment 64 in the City of Ouray. 

Hansen was a man of many talents and interests. In his life, he assembled command modules for the Apollo program and sent strands of his own hair into space. He participated in a Guinness World Record-breaking skydive formation and logged over 24 hours of freefall. He served as the president of Ring 60, the Austin chapter of the International Brotherhood of Magicians. Locally, he participated in the single-jack competition at the Highgraders’ Holidays in 2011 and 2012. 

Hansen brought the same sense of curiosity and adventure to his service on the Ouray City Council, spending his time researching and discussing council matters so that he could best represent the community he loved. 

He took office on Nov. 16, 2009 after playing a key role in crafting the City of Ouray’s Home Rule Charter. Seeing the charter implemented, Hansen said, was one of the main reasons why he ran for council. 

During his years of service, Hansen spoke softly (but frankly, and often with a disarming sense of humor), and was a tireless advocate for his constituents. With medical marijuana at the forefront of council discussion in 2010, Hansen spent hours talking to community members about the divisive issue, successfully arguing to put it to a vote, rather than being approved or banned by council.  

“We shared a lot of conversations, and a lot of thoughts and planning on city matters together,” said fellow councilor John Ferguson. “He was a good friend and he will be missed. He loved Ouray, loved the mountains. We shared a lot of similar philosophies.” 

Hansen forged an equally strong bond with Ouray City Administrator Patrick Rondinelli. “I thoroughly enjoyed my time working with Gary as a council member and developed a strong friendship with him,” Rondinelli said. “Gary often told me that he had lived in many communities but never cared so much for a community as he did Ouray, thus his desire to serve on the city council. He absolutely loved being a city council member and dealing with the diverse issues and complex problems that the council faces. Gary’s passion, careful contemplation, and wit will be missed by all.” 

Mayor Bob Risch concurred. “Gary worked at it very hard; he took it very seriously and put in extra effort to find out what his constituents wanted him to do,” Risch reflected. “He is one of the hardest working councilors I’ve had the privilege of working with.” 

Daughter Carli, meanwhile, remembers her dad for his ability to tell “the longest and most interesting stories. 

“He was a creative problem solver and a jack-of-all-trades,” she said. “He was a collector of the strange and unusual. He was passionate about everything he did, and he knew what was important in life.”

Hansen was born on March 16, 1947, in Los Angeles, Calif., and grew up in the surrounding area, spending much of his childhood on the beach. He went on to take classes in Electronic Technology at Long Beach City College and worked as a spacecraft electrical and instrumentation installer for North American Aviation/Rockwell, and as an electronic engineering technician for TRW Aerospace. From 1973 to 2002, he worked for the astronomy department at the University of Texas, starting at the McDonald Observatory in West Texas before moving to Austin. 

In Austin, Hansen met his future wife, Christine; they married in 1992. When he retired in 2002, the couple and their two young daughters moved to Ouray, where they had spent many happy summers camping in the Amphitheater.

Hansen loved this close-knit community and its spectacular scenery. He enjoyed exploring his mountainous backyard with friends and family, and was an active member of the Ouray Trail Group. He recently became a member of the Ouray Elks Lodge. He also lent his electronics expertise as a regular volunteer at the Second Chance Thrift Shop in Ridgway.

Hansen’s death has created a vacancy on the Ouray City Council. Section 2.5 of the Ouray Home Rule Charter (which Hansen helped to craft) dictates the action of council for this vacancy, stating that council vacancies “shall be filled by the affirmative vote of a majority of the remaining council members,” and that the appointee “shall serve until the appointed term concludes.” Hansen’s term would have concluded this November.

Councilor Ferguson voiced his hope that council would replace Hansen “with someone with a similar philosophy.”

Mayor Risch added that council would most likely seek a temporary replacement, who is not interested in running for office in the fall, so as not to give the appointee an unfair advantage in the upcoming election.

 

MEMORIAL SERVICE SCHEDULED FOR SATURDAY, JULY 20

Hansen was preceded in death by his father, John William “Bill” Hansen, and his sister, Christine Hoffman. He is survived by his mother, Jeanne Burgess, his wife, Christine Hansen, and his two daughters, Carli and Bonnie Hansen.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 20 in the Ouray Community Center for those who wish to share their memories of him and celebrate his life. A light lunch will be provided.

In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Gary Hansen can be made to the Ouray Trail Group, PO Box 50, Ouray, CO, 81427 or Second Chance Humane Society, PO Box 2096, Ridgway, CO, 81432. 

 

Ouray City Councilor Gary Hansen Dies

PUBLISHED JULY 8 AT 12:35 P.M.

OURAY –
Gary Hansen of Ouray passed away Friday night, July 5, after a hard-fought battle with cancer. 

Hansen was nearing the end of a four-year term on the Ouray City Council, and held the position of Mayor Pro Tem, when he died. In spite of his illness, he remained active on council until shortly before his death, appearing at a meeting just three weeks ago for a key vote regarding the implementation of Amendment 64 in the City of Ouray. 

Hansen took office on Nov. 16, 2009. He was one of two people running for two open council seats that year, thus the election was canceled.

Prior to joining the Ouray City Council, Hansen also served on the Home Rule Charter Commission (a position to which he was elected) and played a key role in crafting the City of Ouray’s Home Rule Charter, which was approved by Ouray voters in May 2009. Seeing through the charter’s implementation was one of the big reasons Hansen said he ran for council. 

During his years of service as a city councilor, Hansen spoke softly (but frankly) and showed himself to be a tireless advocate for his constituents. With medical marijuana at the forefront of council discussion in 2010, Hansen spent hours talking to constituents about their feelings on the divisive issue, and successfully argued in favor of putting the matter to a vote, rather than being approved or banned by council.  

As the battle over MMJ raged within the community, Hansen also helped appoint the moderate John Ferguson (over two more conservative applicants) to council when former councilor Ben DeGear resigned after moving out of city limits. Ferguson and Hansen enjoyed getting to know each other as friends and colleagues over the ensuing years. 

“We shared a lot of conversations, and a lot of thoughts and planning on city matters together,” Ferguson said. “He was a good friend and he will be missed. He loved Ouray, loved the mountains. We shared a lot of similar philosophies. Our takes [on issues pertaining to the city council] were pretty similar, and in that regard, I’m really going to miss him.” 

Hansen made a similarly positive impression upon Ouray City Administrator Patrick Rondinelli. “I thoroughly enjoyed my time working with Gary as a council member and developed a strong friendship with him,” Rondinelli said. “Gary often told me that he had lived in many communities but never cared so much for a community as he did Ouray, thus his desire to serve on the city council. He absolutely loved being a city council member and dealing with the diverse issues and complex problems that the council faces. Gary’s passion, careful contemplation, and wit will be missed by all.” 

Mayor Bob Risch concurred. “Gary worked at it very hard, he took it very seriously and put in extra effort to find out what his constituents wanted him to do,” Risch stressed. “He is one of the hardest working councilors I’ve had the privilege of working with. He would come in prepared for every session.” 

Hansen was up for reelection in November. His death has created a vacancy on the Ouray City Council for the next four months. Section 2.5 of the Ouray Home Rule Charter (which Hansen helped to craft) dictates the action of council for this vacancy. 

The charter states that council vacancies “shall be filled by the affirmative vote of a majority of the remaining council members,” and that the appointee “shall serve 

until the appointed term concludes.” 

Ferguson said his hope was that council would replace Hansen “with someone with a similar philosophy.”

Risch added that council would most likely seek a temporary replacement who is not interested in running next fall, so as not to give the appointee an unfair advantage in the upcoming election.

The charter also tasks council with appointing a new Mayor Pro Tem from within its ranks at its next regular meeting (to be held next Monday, July 15), who will serve until the next regular election. 

Hansen’s family plans to hold a memorial service at the Ouray Community Center in the near future, Ferguson said.

swright@watchnewspapers.com or Tweet @iamsamwright

Comments
(0)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
No Comments Yet