Robert George Hanson, 84, a well-known brick mason and historian, died unexpectedly on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, at his home near Yankton.
A memorial service will be held 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 24, at Wintz & Ray Funeral Home in Yankton, with Reverend Steven Weispfennig officiating. The family will receive friends one hour prior to the service at the funeral home. Honoring Robert's wishes, a private family burial took place in the Garden of Memories Cemetery on Feb. 10.
Robert George Hanson was born Dec. 12, 1933 near Firesteel, S.D., on the Standing Rock Reservation to Maynard J. and Zelia Ruth (Wiese) Hanson. He graduated from Vermillion High School in 1951 and served in the U.S. Army and National Guard from 1953 to 1962 before distinguishing himself as a brick and stonemason. Robert married Donna Jeanne Persinger on April 23, 1961 in Yankton.
Robert learned masonry from pioneer builders Robert Bowyer and George Hanford, and through the years he lovingly tended to historic homes and buildings. He restored and maintained many of the Yankton area's 19th century soft-brick and chalkstone houses. He is especially known for preserving the G.A.R. Hall on Douglas, the Pennington House (now home to South Dakota Magazine) and Lakeport Church, west of Yankton. He led an effort to memorialize the famed trapper Pierre Dorian. He also created stone planters on the meridian of Douglas Avenue. Recently, he restored the memorial to Custer's soldiers buried in the Bon Homme Cemetery.
Robert also developed a reputation as an historian. He was always willing to share stories, telling them with generous doses of humor and adventure. He participated in rendezvous and black powder shoots, wearing authentic outfits that he sewed by hand. He restored guns and also made many, including a Gatling gun on display at the Dakota Territorial Museum. He loved Yankton's history and architecture, and spent his life preserving both for future generations.
Robert was a loyal husband and father. He was an avid reader, family historian, builder and restorer of antique furniture, and a member of the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, where he served many years as treasurer.
Survivors include his wife, Donna J. Hanson of Yankton; two children: Mark V. Hanson of Yankton and Sarah A. (Krishna) Hanson-Pareek of Vermillion; a granddaughter, Prairie M. (Jacob) Gehm of Sioux Falls; sister, Shirley M. Hanson of Spokane, Wash.; brother, Amond H. (Sally) Hanson of Pagosa Springs, Colo.; and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother and sister-in-law, Maynard J. (Janice M. Crance) Hanson.
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Bob was by far the most knowledgeable people I ever knew. Masonry work was just a small part of his life, he was skilled in so many different fields. Thanks Bob for sharing your gifts!
I visited with Bob about two weeks ago as he was strolling along the front of his place. We had a short chat about his beautiful chimney and a few other things. He was lamenting that he recently attended a funeral of a friend and that all his buddies where passing on. I said we would see them again in due time.... It sounds like the time was due. I remember Bob showing our Boy Scouts his collection of rifles and how they related in history to the times of Lewis & Clark. He could keep those Scouts captivated! Enjoy your forever, Bob!
Ranger Barry Schloss - Lewis & Clark Scout Camp
Donna, to you and all of your family, we offer our condolences. Bob's expertise in repairs at the Episcopal church was much appreciated. Throughout the Yankton area his talent and generosity were shared and continue to be enjoyed.
They should have done a reality show on Bob, the stories he knew and the suspenseful way he told them were so entertaining. He was also such a good friend ... he remembered people and buildings, and stayed in touch with both. And he didn't have to agree with you on everything (I'm proof of that side of him) ... he could tolerate a lot from someone if they just shared his passion for Yankton and South Dakota. We'll miss you Bob. And so will our red bricks.
Mark and Family: From all I know, your Dad was a remarkable man. The Gatlan Gun is a testament to his skills. I lament not learning about chalkstone from him.
John P. Blackburn
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