Cover photo for Paul K. Hansen's Obituary
Paul K. Hansen Profile Photo
1925 Paul 2020

Paul K. Hansen

October 14, 1925 — October 1, 2020

   Paul Hansen, age 94, of Elk Horn, died late Monday, October 1, 2020 at Myrtue Medical Center in Harlan. Memorial services will be held at a later date when family can gather and circumstances will allow. Ohde Funeral Home in Kimballton in charge of arrangements.

   Paul Hansen's life was animated by community. He gave his time to those around him; he drew purpose and fulfillment and joy from the connections we share. He served his country in the Navy, he dedicated decades of his life to the production of a weekly testament to a small town, he supported a family. He volunteered his time to committees, boards, and clubs focused on the collective good. He worked for, and believed in, "us".
   As a part of the second generation of this particular Amercian-born Hansen clan, Paul took immense pride in the immigrant roots of the Danish Villages of Elk Horn and Kimballton. The Hansen's figure prominently in the history of these villages. Paul's grandfather Rasmus donated the land upon which the Elk Horn Lutheran church was built, in fact much of today's Elk Horn is on the old Rasmus Hansen homestead. Rasmus was among the first group of councilmen elected when Elk Horn incorporated, he was one of the first postmasters, opened the first business on the west side of Main Street and was the first president of the Danish Mutual Insurance Association. Paul's father Alfred was Elk Horn's sage of journalism. He type-set and proofread articles in the early Danish language newspaper Vaegteren and later served as manager, editor, and correspondent with the Kimballton-Elk Horn Record, and finally worked with his son Paul at the Elk Horn Kimballton Review. Alfred worked on newspapers in Elk Horn for nearly 70 years.
   Alfred and Emma Hansen had four boys, Kenneth, Paul, Kirk, and Joseph. Paul Hansen was born on October 14th, 1925 in Kimballton, Iowa. Paul attended school in Elk Horn, where he met his future wife Joyce Griffith. After graduating high school in Elk Horn, Paul joined the US Navy and served in WWII's Pacific Theater aboard the sub chaser SC-1065. Upon returning from the war, Paul and Joyce were married. Their union lasted 68 years until Joyce passed away in 2014. Together they raised 5 children, had 7 grandchildren, and 8 great-grandchildren.
   The team of Paul and Joyce told the story of their community on the pages of the Review for over 20 years. They told stories of crops and elections, local business and music contests, library renovations, scholarships and pancake days. A yearly highlight was coverage of the Villages' Tivoli Fest, when the towns celebrated their Danish heritage. Joyce wrote and edited copy, sold ads and kept the books. Paul laid out the pages, oversaw production at the press, created and produced the photography, and covered the local sports scene. Friday nights in the fall would see Paul in the pressbox overlooking the football field known as Dane Country, a note pad and multicolored pen recording a shorthand depiction of each play.
   Paul gave his free time to Elk Horn, too. He served as Town Clerk for 40 years, also the school board and town council. He was a volunteer fireman, a member of the Better Elk Horn Club, the Optimists, and the American Legion. He was a dedicated member of Elk Horn Lutheran Church, was he served on the church council and as a deacon.
   When it came time for true recreation, one struggles to find a word strong enough to describe Paul's passion for golf. When weather and the schedule of newspaper publishing allowed, Paul was a near-daily presence at Greenbrier Golf Club, a few miles from Elk Horn. (When weather didn't cooperate, tennis balls and "holes" spray-painted in the snow were known to suffice). Even in this area of his life, it was about the people around him. While he'd get in a quick 9 if no one was available, you were much more likely to spot Paul on the fairways with Burt Esbeck and Maury Lykke, among others.
   Another group that Paul proudly associated with were the fans of the University of Iowa Hawkeyes. Paul traveled to Iowa City for football and basketball games and would never miss a broadcast if attending in person was not an option. A source of lighthearted contention between he and his brother Ken (a staunch Nebraska fan), you could tell who won the annual Hawkeye Husker football game by whose phone rang after the fourth quarter that Saturday afternoon. (Hint: it was not the winner's phone.)
   Much has been made in recent years about the happiness of the citizens of Denmark. The term hygge is frequently mentioned in stories about the Happy Danes as a source of their contentment*.* But the common cursory translation of hygge into cozy overlooks the essential social aspect of the word, and of the experience. It's not just fireplaces and slippers. One definition of the term is "a form of everyday togetherness". And one etymology of the word traces it back to the word hugge, which means "to embrace".
   When we embrace community, we tap into something higher and more noble than our individual selves. For all he did for his family and those around him, Paul was a hero. Long live the connections he fostered and the community he served and loved.

He is survived by his children: Susan Hansen, Linda Ballantyne, Benjamin Hansen, Jung Hansen, Mark Hansen; brother Joseph Hansen; grandchildren; great grandchildren;  and in-laws, nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.

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