Leslie “Les” Duane Hanson slipped from time into eternity at 7:45 in the morning on November 7 at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN with his dear wife by his side. He was 70 years, one month, and one day old.
Les was born October 6, 1952 in Watertown, SD, the third child of Donald and Jennie Hanson. The son of a farmer, Les knew, from the time he could first think, that when he grew up, he was going to be a farmer. As a child, he and his brothers often played under the fuel tanks on the farm, his brothers making a mess, and Les setting up fields with neat, straight rows. He began working at a young age, putting money aside to purchase his future farm. One of his first jobs was hauling hay for his Uncle Dale, but he was happy to get his first factory job, as that meant overtime, and Les worked as much overtime as he could get. When Les was 17, he took a trip to Washington, where his attention was captured by a pretty, curly-haired girl, and after a few hints from her two older brothers, he worked up the courage to write her a letter. Thus began their long correspondence. It was the Vietnam era, and in April of 1972, Les began Army basic training in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Following basic training, he transferred to Fort Sill, Oklahoma for six weeks of AIT (Advanced Individual Training) in Pershing Missiles, the largest nuclear missile the Army had at that time. He then spent two years guarding those missiles in Germany, learning to ski in the Alps during his time off. Les has said, “The Pershing’s motto was ‘Mission Accomplished’ and thank God, we never had to fire a missile. We accomplished our mission.”
The love letters continued throughout that time, and upon completing his military service, Les moved to Washington, where he spent a year building the first home for himself and his future bride. On July 15, 1975, Les married his “honey,” Marsha, in a small, backyard ceremony at her oldest sister Joan’s house. In the fall of 1977, Les’s life-long dream of owning a farm came true; he purchased land in northern Minnesota. In March of 1978, Les, with Marsha and their cherished two little girls by his side, set off to begin their new life on the Ponsford prairie. The farm had plenty of room for Les’s dreams to grow. All that it needed was a farmer willing to work hard and determined not to quit. Solid Oak Farm had both in Les. The family also grew, adding two more joyfully received little girls, and then six years later, the prairie was abuzz; the Hansons had a BOY!
By the grace of God, Les spent 45 years living out his dream of raising a family on a farm. With the help and support of his loving wife Marsha, he raised cattle, fixed old equipment and fixed it again, farmed in two states, remodeled the house, took agriculture classes and marketing courses, overhauled multiple tractors, maintained temperamental old irrigators, made do with what he had, all while raising and loving his family so very well. He was a conservationist, a plumber, a builder, a mechanic, a welder, a carpenter, an electrician—a jack of all trades, and proficient at most. He was a farmer. In 2011, after 33 years of planning and saving, a dream came to fruition when he was finally able to build his beautiful, warm shop. He told Carmelle, just last summer, “I just can’t believe it. I thank God every time I step foot inside.” During the last year of his life, Les found great pleasure in teaching an interested granddaughter about farming. The final decade of Les’s farming life contained some of his most rewarding working years, as his only son became his partner in the farm operation. Les considered it an immeasurable blessing to entrust the tending of Solid Oak Farm to his treasured son Brandon. He knew he was leaving it in capable hands.
Les was a life-long member of the Apostolic Lutheran Church, first in South Dakota, then in Washington, and finally, in Spruce Grove. He was a quiet, gentle man, with a quiet yet firmly devoted faith. In his final days, even in the haze of severe pain and suffering, he proclaimed over and over his love for Jesus. During his hospitalization, he shared with one of his doctors “I’m the greatest sinner of them all.” The doctor responded, “And you have been saved through Christ’s redemptive work on the cross.” And he was!
Les will be dearly missed by his loving and much loved wife Marsha of Ponsford, Minnesota; his daughters Miranda Seppanen with husband Brian of La Center, Washington, Clarice Traffie with husband Josh of La Center, Washington, Tamara Aho with husband Jamie of Wadena, Minnesota, and Carmelle of Battle Ground, Washington, his son Brandon with wife Lynette of Ponsford, Minnesota, his grandchildren; Bethany with husband Damon Howard, Meredith, Trevor, Clay, Joanna, Gretchen, Irene, Naomi, Philip, Madeline, Nels, Nolan, and Jack; and one soon-to-arrive great grandchild. He will also be missed by his mom Jennie, of Menahga, Minnesota; sister Janet with husband Raymond Aho of Wolf Lake, Minnesota; brothers Dan with wife Carol of Battle Ground, Washington; Randy with wife Mary, of Taylors, South Carolina, Tom with wife Wendy of Prineville, Oregon; sister-in-law Diane of South Carolina, and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his father Donald and brother Terry. Les was a man of solid purpose and quiet strength. He leaves behind a legacy of gentle kindness, abiding love, and deep faith.
Les’s final words were, “I love you. I love Jesus. Jesus! Jesus!” And then he closed his eyes. The seed of faith sown in his youth fell on good ground, God gave the increase, and on the final day of Fall Harvest, 2022, God gathered Les into the storehouse of His kingdom—a perfectly finished crop in Christ, safe from any further storms.