2017-02-17 / Obituaries

Roger Hansen

Volunteer football and wrestling coach Roger A. Hansen of Kennebunk passed away Feb. 9, 2017, at Gosnell Memorial Hospice House in Scarborough.

Roger was born Jan. 11, 1933, in Newark, New Jersey, to George and Catherine Rooney Hansen. Although he had no siblings, he was closely raised alongside his cousins Rodney and Lee Cotton in a very modest household. All earned degrees and became stockbrokers.

Roger was a scholar and a star athlete, lettering in football and baseball in high school. When his family moved from Belleville, New Jersey, into its neighboring town and athletic rival Nutley, New Jersey, the local newspaper published a large editorial cartoon welcoming him in anticipation of improving its win record.

Roger attended Yale University where he played football, wrestling and rugby. He was a member of Skull and Bones and St. Elmo’s Society. He had the privilege of meeting one of his idols, Eleanor Roosevelt, in his senior year and said it was a life changing experience.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Yale in 1955, he served in the U.S. Navy as a Lieutenant JG. He later completed graduate work at New York University.

He was a stockbroker for 45 years, retiring in 2000 from ABN-AMRO (The Chicago Corporation) where he was a senior vice president.

At a time when many looked the other way, Roger became the chair of the Chicago AIDS Foundation and brought attention and acceptance to this important cause. He also participated in fundraising for St. Elizabeth’s Homeless Shelter for women and their children.

After retirement, he and his wife moved to Kennebunk in 2001.

In Maine, he delivered food, fundraised, and organized an annual Thanksgiving Turkey Drive for York County Shelter Programs, volunteered on many state and national Democratic campaigns and fundraisers, and was awarded the Paul Harris Fellow Award by the Kennebunkport Rotary.

Roger’s true passion was volunteer coaching in the Kennebunk middle and high schools. He assisted with football, wrestling, lacrosse and track and field.

In addition to teaching the students the techniques, he also emphasized the importance of being good students and citizens. Every coaching day began with a vocabulary lesson of a word that often appeared on the students’ SAT tests.

In 2005, Kennebunk High School awarded Roger the Amos McCallum Service Award for his work with student athletes. He never went anywhere that he was not greeted warmly by his students and their parents and grandparents. As he was receiving home hospice care, many of the Kennebunk High School athletes and coaches visited his bedside and reminisced about games they had played and lessons Roger had taught them.

Roger was a voracious poker player. Even as dementia began to interfere with his life, fellow players said he still saw the good hand that many of them had overlooked. He participated in a couples’ book club, took classes in chess, and lived a busy, purposeful life.

He and his wife Diane Denk celebrated their 20th anniversary on Christmas Day. He is also survived by his sons Blake (Annie) Hansen of Evanston, Illinois; Mark (Ralinda) Hansen of Albuquerque, New Mexico; Doug (Tanya) Sanders of Chicago, Illinois, grandchildren Jake, Grace, Avery, and Lauren, and two pups, Reggie and Rory. He is also survived by his dear cousins Rodney and Lee (Trish) Cotten of Florida and many cousins and friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents George and Catherine Hansen, his devoted daughter Victoria (Tory), and his beloved Yorkie Abe.

In Roger’s memory, donations may be made to Gosnell Hospice House, 180 US Route 1, Scarborough, ME 04074 (hospiceofsouthernmaine.org) or to York County Shelter Programs, 147 Shaker Hill Road, Alfred, ME 04002 (yorkcountyshelterprograms.com).

A celebration of Roger’s life will be scheduled later in the spring.

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