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Life Story / Obituary
Patient and kind, caring and generous, resilient and hopeful, Yvonne Hansen lived a life rich in family and friends. Lovingly centered in her faith, Yvonne was a natural caregiver who willingly answered the call to comfort and encourage others. She possessed a great sense of humor that, when coupled with her exceptional skills and unwavering confidence, helped people feel safe and confident too. With a warm smile and a welcoming heart, Yvonne welcomed each day as a gift and every person as a friend. She was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, friend, and nurse who will long be remembered and so dearly missed.
Despite the obvious gloom of the Great Depression, 1930 beheld a power of hope that undulated in the hearts of many. With a natural drive to not just endure but thrive in the face of uncertainty, people continued to put one foot in front of the other to build a better future. Nowhere was there a greater sense of hope than in Richibucto, New Brunswick, Canada, as William Frederick and Marie Richard welcomed their daughter Yvonne into their family.
The youngest of ten Richard children, Yvonne grew up in a home rooted in faith and filled with activity. Her father worked as a lobster fisherman, and her mother was a homemaker. A traditional Catholic family, the church was always at the center of family life. One of Yvonne’s fondest memories was attending Midnight mass on Christmas Eve, riding to and from the church in a horse-drawn sleigh.
Yvonne enjoyed playing baseball and, of course, figure skating on the frozen waters of New Brunswick. She attended St. Joseph Convent High School in New Brunswick and after graduating with the class of 1949, Yvonne went on to nursing school in Campbellton, New Brunswick. Proudly completing her training as a Registered Nurse in 1952, it was time to pursue her passion. While reading a nursing journal, an advertisement for an opening in Waltham, Massachusetts, caught her eye. After successfully passing the state boards, she responded to the call and began working as an RN in the Operating Room.
While working and living in Waltham, Yvonne was introduced to Wes Hansen by a mutual friend, who invited some of the airmen from the local Air Force base to a party. A classical music fan herself, Yvonne didn’t really enjoy the rock and roll played at the party. Neither did she find herself particularly drawn to Wes. Wes, on the other hand, was smitten with Yvonne and persisted in asking for another date. Though Yvonne played a little hard to get, she finally gave in, and the two were soon a steady couple. On June 7, 1958, they exchanged their marriage vows with a Mass in Waltham at St. Joseph Catholic Church. The newlyweds hoped to honeymoon in California, but their money ran out. Instead, they visited Wes’ family in Nebraska and explored New York City and Washington D.C. before returning to Waltham.
When Wes completed his service with the Air Force, he and Yvonne moved to Montréal, Canada, with the intention of Wes attending McGill University. There, they welcomed their daughter Michelle to their family. Though Wes did not attend the University as planned, the family stayed in Montréal for two years before moving to Lincoln, Nebraska, where Wes attended the University of Nebraska.
After living in Nebraska for four years, the family moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan, where daughter Renee was born a few days after they arrived. Settling into their forever community, Yvonne stayed home for many years to focus on raising her girls. She then successfully took her Michigan state boards and earned her nursing license.
With her license in hand, Yvonne began working for Bronson Methodist Hospital. At first, she worked part-time and on-call as a float nurse in many different departments at the hospital. Eventually, she moved into a full-time position she worked for over twenty years. A dedicated caregiver, Yvonne was proud of being a nurse and, more importantly to her, to be a Bronson nurse.
A true people person, Yvonne enjoyed an active social life. When her daughters were young, she played lots of softball with them. Dance and swimming lessons, participating in 4-H, and spending two months of summer in Canada with family were some of their favorite times together. Always proud of her Canadian heritage, Yvonne was a lifelong Montréal Canadian’s hockey fan who cheered on her favorite team with passion. Attending games with her family was always a treat.
As her children grew into adulthood and had families of their own, Yvonne’s joy grew too. Her family was her greatest joy, and anytime they gathered was cause for celebration. She relished her role as grandmother and never missed the opportunity to cheer them on. Whatever they were interested in, she was too. Their biggest cheerleader, Yvonne, encouraged each of their endeavors with signature faith and confidence.
Throughout the years, she came to really enjoy crafting. Though she never made much money, she loved the creative process and seeing what she could make. She also enjoyed a good glass of wine and the tradition of attending Saturday afternoon mass followed by a meal at Godfather’s Pizza. Traveling proved another joy for Yvonne, and she enjoyed many adventures, including a few cruises and epic trips to Hawaii and Europe.
Without a doubt, life feels less certain in the absence of Yvonne’s steadfast companionship. May we find much comfort in our many treasured memories and in the honor of carrying her loving legacy forward. In every moment we choose faith over fear, generously give our gifts, gather with loved ones, welcome adventure, and reflect the goodness in others, we celebrate the many ways Yvonne touched, moved, and inspired us.
Yvonne J. Hansen, age 92, of Kalamazoo, died on Thursday, December 8, 2022. She was born January 14, 1930, in Richibucto, New Brunswick, Canada, the daughter of William and Marie Richard. Members of Yvonne’s family include her husband of 64 years, Wesley Hansen; three daughters: Michelle (Lenora Lee) Hansen of Kalamazoo, Renee (Kenneth) Hughes of Vicksburg, Danielle (Andrew) Wedel of Schoolcraft; six grandchildren: Daniel, Rachel, and John Hughes; Zach, Caleb, and Elijah Wedel; a sister, Pauline Boudreau and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents and siblings: Lorraine, Lucille, Bertha, Aurėle, Yolande, Germaine, Liliane, and Fernand. Private services will be held, and burial will be at Ft. Custer National Cemetery. Visit Yvonne’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories and photos and sign her guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association.