Brother Arnold P. Hanson, Sr. ’48
From the March 2015 edition of UNH today magazine.
Born prematurely in 1924, Arnold Hanson weighed just three pounds. Fortunately, the doctor who delivered him in his parents’ kitchen had recently learned a new method of caring for at-risk infants. He instructed Hanson’s mother to warm the tiny baby in the oven. Ninety years later, Hanson still expressed amazement that he had survived being “baked” and had lived so long, says his daughter, Julie Mook.
Hanson served three years in the Navy submarine service during World War II and enrolled in UNH at the war’s end. He married his wife, Della, in 1948, a week after graduating. In 1951 he received his JD from Boston University School of Law, financing much of his law degree by working construction during summer breaks and selling vacuum cleaners on weekends. A lucrative offer to practice law in Boston was tempting, but Hanson’s love of his hometown of Berlin, N.H. went deep. As a boy he had had an early morning milk route and three newspaper routes in town. In winter, he shoveled snow for neighbors; in summer, he mowed lawns. He returned to Berlin and the people he had known all his life, practicing law there until his retirement 40 years later.
In addition to his private law practice, Hanson served four years as attorney for Coos County and, along with Della, was involved in many local and national social and political organizations. He was also a board member and past president of the New Hampshire Bar Association. Boston University School of Law honored him with its Silver Shingle Award for exemplifying leadership, ethics and integrity in the legal profession.
Hanson loved getting together with friends at the family home, says Julie. Della played the piano and everyone enjoyed a sing-along. Later in life, while living in an assisted living facility, Arnold and Della eagerly awaited the piano player who entertained at the weekly social hour. They were always the first ones downstairs, encouraging other residents to join in.
Grateful for the education Arnold had received at UNH, and wanting to provide opportunities for other students, the Hansons established two significant endowments. The Dr. Norman Alexander Teaching Excellence Fund, created in 1998, rewards faculty for outstanding performance in teaching and scholarship. Although Hanson’s father had planned for his son to become a mechanical engineer, Arnold was more interested in law. Dr. Alexander, then dean of men, encouraged him to major in political science and pursue his passion. Hanson never forgot his mentor, and, speaking of Alexander’s positive influence said, “No other person I know had ever had his life changed like that.”
Believing that students of promise should not be denied a college education because of financial constraints, in 2002 the Hansons created the Arnold P. and Della A. Hanson Endowed Scholarship Fund to provide four-year scholarships to students from Coos County. In recognition of their commitment to the university, in 2004 the Hansons received the Hubbard Family Award for Service to Philanthropy, the highest honor awarded by the UNH Foundation.
Della Hanson died in August 2013. Shortly before Arnold’s death 11 months later, Julie Mook and her siblings, Caryl Hanson Brensinger ’73 and Arnie Hanson, Jr., along with seven grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and other family members, gathered with Arnold to celebrate his 90th birthday. He had accomplished much in the professional world, but always said that his proudest achievement was his family.
From the UNH foundation website
The Hansons, who created two significant endowments in just five years at the University of New Hampshire, have received the UNH Foundation’s 2004 Hubbard Family Award for Service to Philanthropy. The Berlin residents have devoted their lives to their family and to the community in the North Country.
The Hanson’s first endowment—the Dr. Norman Alexander Teaching Excellence Fund—was created in 1998 to recognize distinction in teaching and achievement in the university’s faculty. Their second major gift was made in 2002 to establish the Arnold P. and Della A. Hanson Endowed Scholarship Fund, which helps provide students from Coos County with four-year scholarships.
“I just wanted a kid in the North Country who has the desire to go to college to know there is this opportunity coming that can help achieve the goals he or she has set,” Arnie Hanson said. “I want these kids to know there can be help for their goals.”
Arnie Hanson started saving money early in his life. Growing up as a young boy in Berlin, he had a milk route in the morning and three newspaper routes, and he shoveled snow in the winter and mowed lawns in the summer. In college, he had a monopoly on selling corsages and boutonnieres to UNH fraternities for their formal social functions. He also was the board manager at his fraternity, Sigma Beta.
When Hanson attended his first year at UNH in the 1940s, his parents paid the tuition and he received three or four small scholarships. His sister, a teacher, sent Hanson $2 per week “for spending money,” he recalled. Following his first year, he went into the Navy and when he returned, his UNH education was paid for by the G.I. Bill. He could handle up to 26 credits per semester—the usual load is 16 credits. “I had a lot of help from people when I was going to UNH,” he said, “and Della and I feel it’s only right to help others in the same way.”
Arnie and Della were married in 1948, one week after Arnie received his bachelor’s degree in political science from UNH. After graduation from Boston University Law School in 1951, he was offered a lucrative job in Boston at a prestigious law firm but, Hanson said, “I wanted to go home. I wanted to know that when my daughter went out with someone, I’d know who his parents were.”
In addition to his law practice, Hanson served his community as Coos County attorney for four years. He was a board member and past president of the New Hampshire Bar Association, director of the Berlin Cooperative Bank, and chairman of the board for the Berlin City Bank. He is the recipient of the 1977 Boston University Law School’s prestigious Silver Shingle Award and the UNH Alumni Association’s Meritorious Service Award in 1986. The Hansons continue to support many causes in their retirement.