Thursday, January 29, 2015

In Memory of Uncle Thorvald

Here is part of the story of my Uncle Thorvald's life.
His legacy is longer than an obituary can record.
Thorvald Hansen died on Tuesday, January 27, 2015 at the age of 98. 

He was born, the son of Peter T. Hansen and Jenny, Gary, on January 22, 1917, at Troy, New York. His mother died during the influenza epidemic in the fall of 1918. As a result he was raised to maturity by his paternal grandmother, through whom he also learned the Danish language and came into contact with the Danish Lutheran Church.

He received his early education in the public schools of Lansingburgh, the northern section of Troy, and graduated from High School there in 1935. He found employment in a local woolen mill and worked there for six years. In early 1941 he was examined for the draft and was rejected. As a result, later that year he enrolled in Grand View College and Seminary. Following the completion of his studies there he was ordained into the ministry of the Danish Lutheran Church.

In June of 1948, Thorvald was united in marriage with Johanne Johansen of Luck (West Denmark) Wisconsin, and together they served congregations in Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota. Meanwhile, three girls were born to this union.

Continuing his education he attended the University of Minnesota and Drake University, receiving his B.A. degree from the latter institution in 1951. Later, he received an M.A. degree in Government, following post graduate study at the University of South Dakota.

In the fall of 1965 he came to Grand View College as an instructor in History, an occupation which continued for some years. In 1972 he assumed a minor administrative position at the College and in 1979 was named part-time archivist and given the responsibility for the Danish Immigrant Archives at Grand View.

Over the course of many years, Thorvald has written five books, including the centennial history of Grand View College, and translated two others, all of which are on subjects related to the Danish immigrant. Also, during those years he compiled and had published the Danish Immigrant Archival Listing, which is a compilation of all the known archival materials related to the Danish immigrant existing in this country, Canada and a large block of such materials in Denmark.

He has written numerous biographical essays on persons prominent in the Danish Church and a large number of other articles on various topics, most of which have appeared in publications related to descendants of Danes and all are housed in the Grand View Archives. For 23 years, ending in 2006, he served as editor of Church and Life, a publication of the Danish Interest Conference. 

Thorvald is survived by Johanne, his wife of 66 years and by three daughters, Ellen (Steve) Hansen, of Austin, Texas, Barbara Miller, of Ft. Worth, Texas and Nancy (Patrick) O’Keefe, of Urbandale, Iowa. Six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren also survive.

A memorial service will be held at Luther Memorial Church on Saturday, February 7, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. The body has been cremated and the cremains buried at Glendale Cemetery in Des Moines.

Memorials may be sent to Church and Life, c/o Wanda Clark, 123 NW 7th Street, Grand Rapids, MN, 55744.
(Obituary from Des Moines Register)

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