Mittge Commentary: Remembering Bob Hansen: ‘He Cut the Trail and Carried the Torch’


Longtime readers of The Chronicle will no doubt remember Bob Hansen, whose observational slice-of-life columns brought his wry, good-natured humor to our community for five years in the early 2000s. 

Bob died in December at age 69 after a decade-long decline brought on by Parkinson’s disease, exacerbated by a fall in late 2021 that left him bedridden for the final year of his life.

Remarkably (but not surprisingly if you knew him), Bob kept his good humor and deep faith to the end, even as the disease robbed him of the ability to move and speak. 

“I came downstairs and I said ‘Hi grandpa.’ He couldn’t talk then so instead he hummed a tune for me,” his 6-year-old granddaughter Selah said during his memorial service last weekend. “I thought that was really cool.”

The service was noteworthy for its spirit of uplift. Bob died young, unable to live out his “golden years” in good health due to his degenerative disease, but he kept an optimism born of his deep Christian faith. 

In his book “Why Can’t Women Understand Men? We’re So Simple,” he shares many lighthearted observations but also touched on his faith. He wrote the book long before he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, but one excerpt seems to predict that kind of hard knock.

“Reality can be so hard, so cruel,” Bob wrote. “And wishing that an event happened differently can’t change a person’s history. There’s another source of hope, however. God has the amazing ability to overcome hurts of the past ... How exactly God does that, I’m not sure. But He can turn the worst possible situations into something that adds strength to our lives. Can you believe that?”

That kind of faith leaves a powerful legacy, one that will unfold for generations to come. 

“I give thanks to God for the way Dad exemplified faithfulness to the Lord and cut the trail and carried the torch for all of us to follow,” his son Ben Hansen said. “I want to faithfully pick up the torch and run my race and inspire my kin, generations beyond me, to do likewise.”

Bob’s early departure is a reminder that time is short and an encouragement to follow Jesus, his son said.

Bob’s oldest grandchild, Jadon Hansen, said he didn’t have any firm memories of his grandpa before the Parkinson’s symptoms, but said he will always remember the hugs that his grandpa would give with a smile and an “I’ve still got it” joke as he found a way to show his fondness despite his physical decline.

“One thing that remained very consistent, he had a deep love for being a grandpa,” Jadon said. “He’d put energy into being a grandpa. He was loyal, persistent, loving and well-rooted.”

Bob and his wife, Sherry, had four children. Bob’s last big goal in life was to have 20 grandchildren. These days, that’s a lot. In his final year of life, he saw his 20th grandchild born — and then just 20 days before he died, his 21st grandchild was born.

Like the biblical patriarchs of old, Bob Hansen walked with his God and led his children along that path. 

“Dad is honored by us seeking the Lord, by us walking faithfully with Jesus. Carrying the heritage of the faith, and not just for ourselves, but so we can pass it to our children, and children’s children,” his youngest son, Ben Hansen, said. “I was there when Dad passed from this life — I remember thinking, ‘Death is such an enemy. But praise God for the hope we have.’”


Note: Brian Mittge’s sister-in-law, Rebecca, is married to Bob Hansen’s oldest son, Micah. Mittge’s columns appear in The Chronicle each Saturday. Contact him at