Lyle Jay Hanson

Dr. Lyle Jay Hanson – farmer, cattleman, veterinarian, scientist, paleontologist, football player, Christian, singer, actor, school board civic servant, naturalist, Shell Lake woodsman, house painter, chair-caning master, cross-stitching grand-master, butterfly lepidopterist (grower, not collector), Ford Model A mechanic, gin rummy shark, apple pie connoisseur, and lover-of-all-things-Norwegian – died peacefully with his family by his side the morning of July 31, 2021, in Golden, Colorado.

Born in Storden, Minnesota to John and Oleva (Olson) Hanson in 1925, his 96th birthday was just around the corner on August 26.

Jay graduated seventh in his class at Storden High School in 1943, proving his academic superiority over four other kids. After this academic achievement, he was anxious to serve his country during WWII and enlisted in the US Naval Air Corps. After completing flight training in Texas, the Navy sent him to officer training at Mississippi College, then at the University of South Carolina, where he studied chemistry and math. The war ended before he was needed for combat, but he remained an officer in the Naval Reserves for the next 10 years.

He played football for the University of South Carolina as quarterback (in those days the “blocking back”) and outside linebacker. In 1946, he played in the first Gator Bowl.

Jay turned down an offer to try out for the Cleveland Rams (before the Rams moved to Los Angeles, St. Louis, then back to Los Angeles) because he was accepted at the University of Minnesota School of Veterinary Medicine in 1948. Plus, there would never be money in football. After earning his DVM, he subsequently earned a PhD in veterinary and human pathology.

The young Dr. Hanson joined the Cottonwood Veterinary Clinic in Windom, Minnesota, in 1957 and practiced large and small animal veterinary medicine. He bought farmland during the early '60s and began farming part time while practicing full time. In 1970, he quit his practice to farm full time. He built the largest fat cattle feedlot in the state at that time, feeding 4,000 head at full capacity.

He accurately read the agricultural economy winds of change and subsequently accepted a position as a scientist for Hoffman-LaRoche, moving his family to Freehold, New Jersey, in 1973. He ran the Roche large animal health research farm in Colts Neck, New Jersey, while building a newer, more advanced research farm in Wrightstown, New Jersey.

After directing the research at the Roche farms for 12 years, he rose to the position of advisory staff scientist and worked out of the Roche headquarters in Nutley, New Jersey. During this time, he traveled throughout the United States assisting with Phase III research studies and submitting their findings to the FDA in Washington, D.C.

Jay retired in 1987 and moved with his beloved wife, Alice (Allie) Clarissa Egan Hanson, to Canon City, Colorado. He studied geology and paleontology through the University of Colorado, became a certified para paleontologist, and volunteered as a dinosaur excavator for the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. During one of his digs, he helped discover and extract the most complete, perfectly articulated stegosaurus in history. This find caused paleontologists to rearrange the articulation of many of the bones and plates on the reconstructed renderings of the species. The photograph shows Jay covered in plaster while jacketing the underside of the specimen in the field in August 1992 (photo courtesy of Dinosaur Depot Museum).

We are smiling about his reunions with his wife, Allie; his daughter, Cindy; his brother, Doyle; his baby sister, Joyce; his parents, John and Oleva; and Maddy the dino-dog, who thought Jay was the second coming of the Lord.

Those left in the living manifest are five children, 11 grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren. The surviving children are Charlene Flatgard of Jackson Mississippi, Michael (Laural) Hanson of Alameda, California, Clarissa (Thomas) Fasano of Windsor, Colorado, Janie (William Ernstrom) Hanson-Ernstrom of Golden, Colorado, and John (Adrienne) Hanson of Tampa, Florida. Jay’s grandchildren are Spencer and Andrew Flatgard (from Charlene), Lee and Jay Henggeler (from Cindy), Alice and Clarissa Hanson (from Michael), Cassie Powell and Luke Fasano (from Clarissa), and Sophia, Celia, and Jack Ernstrom (from Janie). Jay’s great-grandchildren are Andie Flatgard (from Spencer), Mary Spencer, Reagan, and Samuel Flatgard (from Andrew), Emma and Jacob Powell (from Cassie), and Camon Campos (from Lee).

Well done, you prince of Minnesota, you professor of the arts and sciences, you muse of the stage, you disciple of Christ, you officer of patriot sailors, you warrior of the gridiron, you loyal guardian of family and friends, you king of all creatures great and small. Very, very, very well done. 

Services were held on September 11, in Golden, Colorado.

To plant a tree in memory of Lyle Hanson as a living tribute, please visit Tribute Store.

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