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Gordon Hansen, former Sun owner, dies Thursday

A man described as a great boss, community benefactor and the last individual owner of The Jamestown Sun has passed away.

Gordon Hansen died Tuesday in Shoreview, Minn., at the age of 89. Through his entire professional career he was a newspaperman.

"Gordon went from the days of printing with hot metal to the start of computerization," said Charlie Kourajian, production manager for The Jamestown Sun during Hanson's ownership of the newspaper. "Gordon took over when his dad relinquished it. He and Charlotte (Gordon's wife) ran the paper as a team."

Percy Hansen and Byron Hansen, Gordon's father, purchased the Jamestown Alert in 1925 from William Kellogg. They changed the name to the Jamestown Sun with Byron as publisher. Gordon Hansen sold the paper to American Publishing Company in 1988. It was later purchased by Forum Communications Co. in 2000.

Gordon Hansen returned from service in World War II to work in advertising at the newspaper. Later he took over the publisher duties.

"He was a really good guy to work for," said Gene Keller, who worked for Hanson in advertising starting in 1974. "He was always strong on the editorial content."

Kourajian said Hansen looked at the newspaper as a way to promote the community.

"He was good about keeping the costs down for advertising," he said. "He was almost apologetic anytime they had to raise advertising or subscription rates."

But both Kourajian and Keller remembered Hansen as an excellent boss.

"Good boss," Kourajian said. "Good to his employees. An understanding man who realized people are people and will do good and bad things."

He also matched his community spirit with donations to many causes.

"He had a heart for Jamestown College," Keller said. "He was among the first to finance some of the remodeling there."

In 1992 Gordon and Charlotte donated funding for the renovation of the Hansen Center on the JC campus. In 2005, they again donated for the computer lab in Unruh-Sheldon Business Center.

"He just had a place in his heart for the college," said Bob Badal, JC president. "He was so community orientated. He just saw the college as being essential to the city of Jamestown and saw it as such a valuable asset, because he valued education himself."

Gordon and Charlotte served more than 40 years on the Jamestown College Board of Trustees.

Because of their dedication the school also has two endowment funds, Badal said.

Gordon's dedication as a newspaperman was something Badal saw firsthand.

Over the years Gordon took it upon himself to take every clipping that ran in the Jamestown Alert and The Jamestown Sun since the college was founded in 1883, and create volumes of scrapbooks.

"That was a labor of love of his," Badal said. "It just shows that over a period of years he would commit himself to finishing a project like that, it was an extremely time-consuming process."

Gordon and Charlotte impacted Jamestown in more ways than having a presence at Jamestown College.

In 2008 the pair donated the funds for the renovation of the Hansen Arts Studio, for use by the Arts Center.

"They're just such big supporters of Jamestown ... Gordon just seemed to have a generous nature," said Taylor Barnes, Arts Center director.

Gordon was also a dedicated Mason, Shriner and Jamestown Clown.

He held the highest position in Masonry in North Dakota as Grand Master of the North Dakota Grand Lodge in 1971-72. The same can be said for his dedication to the El Zagal Shrine, as he held the highest position in the state as a past potentate.

"They've been very generous to many institutions in this community -- they were giving people," said Curt Goehner, a fellow Mason, Shriner and Jamestown Clown with Gordon. "As a result the community is much better for what they've given us."

He is survived by his wife and daughter, Jo-Ida Hansen.

Arrangements for Gordon Hansen are pending with Eddy Funeral Home in Jamestown.

Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at brodgers@jamestownsun.com

Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at knorman@jamestownsun.com

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