Aide to Stevenson, Mondale dies at 69

  • Larry Hansen

    Larry Hansen

 
 
Updated 11/16/2010 5:27 PM

Even after 50 years in politics, Larry Hansen never let cynicism or skepticism get him down. By sticking to his principles, his friends and colleagues say, Hansen represented the best of politics and public service.

Hansen, who most recently was vice president of the Joyce Foundation, served as an aide to Vice President Walter Mondale and U.S Sen. Adlai E. Stevenson III.

 

The Elgin native died of cancer at his home in River Forest on Monday. He was 69.

"The quick and easy answers weren't that important to Larry," said longtime friend Rick Jasculca, who met Hansen in 1966 when the two worked on Stevenson's campaign for state treasurer. "He fought for principles, whether it was fighting for civil rights in Mississippi in 1964, working in politics or in the work he has done over the past 15 or 16 years with the Joyce Foundation. He bought into the ideal that you could make changes, that you could produce honest, ethical and open government that represented the people. He fought every day for that principle."

In 1994, Hansen became vice president of the Joyce Foundation, a Chicago organization devoted to improving public policies particularly in the Midwest. During that time, Hansen helped create an infrastructure of campaign reform groups.

"Larry was driven by a high moral standard that he never relaxed," said Ellen Alberding, president of the Joyce Foundation. "People have crusades of one sort or another, as did Larry, but Larry always did it with a gentleness and kindness that made him fun to work with."

Born on Dec. 23, 1940, in Elgin, Hansen attended Elgin High School. He then earned bachelor's degrees in history and political science from the University of Illinois where he began his political career, serving as the student senate president.

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After graduating, Hansen interned as a staff assistant in the Illinois General Assembly where he first worked for Stevenson. It was there that Hansen also met his wife, Marge, to whom he was married for 41 years.

"Larry's life was devoted to public service," Stevenson said in a statement. "For Larry, public service was more than a citizen's duty. It was also an intellectual challenge and occupation."

In the months leading up to Mondale's announcement that he would run for the presidency in 1984, Hansen was Mondale's sole companion, adviser and troubleshooter on the campaign trail.

"We talked about everything," Mondale said in prepared statement. "Larry was gifted, funny, wise and competitive. He also liked to order, on a daily basis, an adequate supply of sweet rolls. He had this gift of calming down matters that had gotten out of control. Everybody liked him. Larry was a blessing to all of us who loved people and politics."

Visitation will be held from 3 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Cumberland Chapels, 8300 W. Lawrence Ave., Norridge. A funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at St. Thecla Catholic Church, 6725 W. Devon Ave., Chicago. The mass will be preceded by final viewing and prayers at 9 a.m. Friday at Cumberland Chapels. Interment is private.

Memorials may be sent to the University YMCA at the University of Illinois, 1001 S. Wright St., Champaign, IL 61820, or to Illinois Issues, HRB 10, University of Illinois Springfield, One University Plaza, Springfield, IL 62703-5407.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

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