It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of our mother, grandmother, sister, cousin and friend, Alice Hansen on Sept. 23, 2020 from Lewy Body Dementia.
Alice was born in 1943 to John and Helen Brancato in Oswego, New York. She was their first of three children. She grew up in a house on the east side of Oswego in an Italian section close to other family members. Her father grew vegetables, mainly onions, corn and lettuce, right outside of Oswego on a muck farm. It was here that Alice and her sisters, Jeanne and Mary Helen would work topping onions for 10 cents a bushel. She often told this story to her own children whenever they would ask for money.
Alice stayed in Oswego until 1963 when the opportunity of coming to Alaska presented itself. Her grandmother was going there to visit her mother’s two sisters Nan and Mona who lived in Fairbanks. Upon their time for departure, Alice made the bold decision to stay. She liked Alaska and thought it would be a great adventure.
Alice obtained a job as a secretary at Golden Valley Electric. It was here she met Glen Hansen, a lineman. After dating for a few months they decided to get married in January of 1964. The first of their children Hope Ann came along one year later in 1965. When Hope was six months old and Alice was pregnant with their second child, they loaded up the car and headed to Wisconsin. Their son Timothy was born in 1966. They didn’t stay long there. They left that state for various job opportunities Glen had in Illinois, Florida and California before returning to Alaska in late 1969. It was here they remained.
Alice decided that she wanted to work outside the home and in 1970 started working at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks in the registrar’s office. She made many lifelong friends here with whom she stayed connected to long after leaving. Alice spent six years there before departing for a different career path. In 1978, she began working for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in the classified ads department. She would end up spending the next 28 years there before retiring as supervisor.
Alice once again made many friends while working there, among those was Glen Cornwall. It took a while but, Alice finally said yes to a date with him, something she never regretted. They spent the next 17 years together until his death in 1999.
It was after Glen’s death that Alice decided to pay it forward by volunteering at Hospice of the Tanana Valley. She soon became a board member, enjoying the opportunity to help others in the same manner that she had been helped with Glen. She also enjoyed volunteering at the Catholic Schools of Fairbanks by reading to the young children and helping with HIPOW.
While working at the News-Miner, an opportunity presented itself to buy a business. In 1995, Alice and longtime friend Whistle Jordan became partners in The Red Sled, a Christmas store. Alice and Whistle loved to go around decorating trees and setting up other Christmas decorations for the hospital, banks and other places in Fairbanks. When there was a lot to do, they never hesitated to pull in their children and grandchildren to help decorate the trees at these places. Alice loved Christmas and always made that holiday extra special for her family.
Alice loved to travel in her spare time. She tried her best to make every family wedding she could no matter where they were held. She traveled to Oswego at least twice a year and to Seattle quite often where her cousins Nina and Patty lived. They always had a wonderful time together. Alice was able to travel to Italy and Greece one summer when Tim and his wife, Maria, took her. This was a trip she never forgot.
But while she loved to travel, her favorite and most cherished thing to do was spend time with her children and grandchildren. Going out to the cabin on Harding Lake was a particular enjoyment for her. She was also able to make trips happen for all of them: Hawaii, Minnesota and New York. These trips are still talked about. Her family was her life. Family was something that she instilled in her children and grandchildren. She would say, “Friends come and go but, family is there forever.”
Alice was a committed mother and grandmother to her family. She could always be counted on by them for anything they needed. Besides her family, she loved dancing, singing, playing golf, playing board and card games, hosting big family dinners and going to weekly lunches with the The Salcha River Ladies lunch group.
Alice is survived by her children, daughter Hope Ann Swoffer and fiancé Rob Catalano of Fairbanks, Alaska; son Timothy Hansen and wife Maria of Anchorage, Alaska; grandchildren Lynsay Ray and Nicole Swoffer of Fairbanks, Sarah Hagen and Anthony Hansen of Anchorage and Kara Langford of Olympia, Washington; great-grandchildren Brayden and Audriana of Fairbanks, and Aria and Laila of Anchorage; sisters Jeanne Toms of Savage, Minnesota and Mary Helen Park of Oswego, New York; along with numerous cousins and other family.
She was predeceased by her parents John and Helen Brancato, ex-husband Glen Hansen, and loving companion Glen Cornwall.
The family would also like the thank Peggy, Lynda, Diane and the rest of the staff at Frontier Assisted Living for the loving care they gave Alice during her final days.
A funeral mass will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 1, at at Sacred Heart Cathedral, 1300 Peger Road. A reception will follow at Pike’s Waterfront Lodge in the Bentley Room at 3:30 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in her name to either the Catholic Schools of Fairbanks or St Jude’s Children’s Hospital.