Community leader Dot Hansen dies at 91

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E’town woman helped found Helping Hand

By Amber Coulter

A 91-year-old Elizabethtown resident quietly died at Hardin Memorial Hospital at 5:24 a.m. Monday, but her family and friends said that her life was anything but quiet.
Even before Dot Hansen and her now-deceased husband, John, moved here from New Jersey in the 1960s, she was committed to community involvement, said friend Nancy Lea Owen.
When Owen met Dot Hansen at First Presbyterian Church in Elizabethtown shortly after the couple moved to the area, she saw the woman take on every cause that came her way and encourage others to do the same.
Dot Hansen’s accomplishments include helping start Helping Hand locally in 1971, serving as a former president of the Elizabethtown Women’s Club and volunteering for the American Red Cross in Elizabethtown.
Owen said her friend’s commitment to helping people around her was born in her nature because she loved everyone.
“There was always a twinkle in her eye and a smile on her face,”
Owen said. “She stopped to lift up anyone she possibly could, no matter who they were.”
Barbie Hansen of Elizabethtown, Dot Hansen’s daughter, started listing organizations in which her mother was involved, such as the Girl Scouts, Hardin County Drug Education Committee and the domestic violence shelter, SpringHaven Inc. in Elizabethtown.
She said that’s just the beginning of her mother’s dedication to the community.
Barbie Hansen said her mother was driven by God to help in any way she could, including waking up at 2 a.m. to pick up people local police told her needed food and shelter.
“She just wanted to help people, and that’s what she’s wanted to do all her life,” she said.
Barbie Hansen remembers her mother reading the Bible daily, praying often and hardly ever missing church.
Skip Dunford, pastor of First Presbyterian Church, where Dot Hansen attended until her death, said the church had a special service to honor the woman a couple years ago. Many community members talked during the service about Hansen’s hard work and positive impact, Dunford said.
“No one could have deserved it more,” he said. “She was a very special lady, and everybody loved her. We don’t have saints in the Protestant church. She’s as close as you come, I guess.”
It became difficult for Hansen to stay involved with the community three years ago, when she suffered a stroke that left her in a wheelchair and paralyzed one side of her body.
Later, she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Her health deteriorated, and she died of complications from cancer, Owen said.
Barbie Hansen said her mother’s health didn’t keep her from affecting the lives of people around her. Neighborhood children often would come through the woman’s unlocked door to visit. The children who showed up on Monday expecting to spend time with the woman took news of her death hard, she said.
Owen said she’ll remember her friend’s kindness.
“She was just incapable of making an enemy,” she said. “She was just capable of making friends, and her friends truly loved her. You can call one thousand people, and you will not find an enemy.”
Amber Coulter can be reached at (270) 505-1746 or at acoulter@thenewsenterprise.