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Front Page » December 23, 2008 » Scene » Hansons going strong after 70 years of marriage
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Hansons going strong after 70 years of marriage

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The Hansons are still laughing together after 70 years of marriage. On Dec. 19, 2008 they reached this milestone anniversary. Dorr and Elizabeth live in Huntington. Dorr was born on Oct. 14, 1917 in Ferron at his parents home. He is the son of Harold and Ruby Hanson and was the first grandchild in his grandfather's family. The family history links the family to Copenhagen, Denmark where the traditional spelling of Hanson is with an o, so that's the way Dorr's father chose to spell the family name.

When Dorr was 7 years old the family left Ferron and moved to Millard County. Dorr's father was a principal and taught school so the family moved a lot whenever his father was transferred to a new school.

Dorr graduated from Carbon High in 1935 and from Brigham Young University in 1939. He majored in forest and range management and minored in education.

Elizabeth was born on Oct. 5, 1918 in Price and grew up in Price. She was the first daughter after five boys. Her name is Mary Elizabeth Mathis and she was born to John A. and Pearl Morrison Mathis. She was always known as Elizabeth and her family called her Liz.

"We used to roller skate all over town. That's how we got around. I would get a new pair of roller skates each year for Christmas, because I wore them out. I grew up in a big family and was a good student. In 1944 my mom died at age 44. I was 16 at the time and took over the care of my younger brother and sister and one of my aunts helped out. I was in a bad car accident at that time and had a skull fracture. I spent three months in bed.

"My mom died in September and my accident was in December. I was active in school and was the girls club president and the studentbody vice president. I had to take my senior year again because I had missed so much school with my injury. Dorr used to come around and we would walk down by the railroad track. My dad was a farmer, rancher and cattleman. He had frost bite so bad from being out in a bad storm that they had to cut both his legs off and he wore wooden legs the rest of his life. My mom was just so afraid he was going to die at that time, but she told him, the Lord would make her shoulders strong to carry the burden after his accident.

"I met Dorr in the halls of Carbon High school. He was the red head and he was in the school band. He's one year older than me, but we were both born in October. When he was at school at BYU he still came home to see me," said Elizabeth.

The Hansons were married on Dec. 19, 1938 in the Salt Lake Temple. Elizabeth also attended BYU for one year. After they were married Dorr was very helpful with Elizabeth's family, he helped with their house and also the canning.

Elizabeth said, "We were in poverty times back then. We borrowed his folks car and went to Salt Lake and got married in the temple. We were all on our own. We stayed over one night in a motel. We had borrowed $30 from a bank to go get married on. Dorr's landlady gave us a room for three days and then we hitchhiked home to Price during the school break for Christmas. After we went back to Provo after Christmas we moved in with my two brothers and the rent was $15 a month.

"It was just one living room, with a double bed in it and the kitchen had a fold down bed. There was an old coal range in the kitchen and a toilet and a bathtub and that was about it. My father had given us a quarter of a beef for our wedding present. Dorr brought riches to contribute to the apartment because he had a radio and a typewriter. We were just four students living together, those were happy times. At one time before we got married Dorr boarded with his band teacher, Professor Sauer. Dorr was on a band scholarship.

"I used to do the laundry in the bathtub and hang it out on the line to dry. We did that from December to June and then that summer we came back to Price. Dorr had his teaching certificate now and could teach school. His first job was teaching fifth grade at the Kenilworth school in Carbon County. He taught two and a half years in Kenilworth," said Elizabeth.

Dorr said, "I went to work for the Independent Coal and Coke Company of Kenilworth. Teachers wages were at a poverty level and we just couldn't make it. We lived there in Kenilworth for 19 years."

Elizabeth added that Dorr was a bishop for his church for eight years and he also had a band. At the time they left Kenilworth they had added five children to the family. The Hanson children are: Dorr Jr., Karla Joy, Loel, LeAnn, Colleen, Leslie, Jonathon and adopted grandchild, Tim. They have 51 grandchildren and 41 great-grandchildren.

After working 19 years for the Independent Coal and Coke Company, Dorr went to work for Thiokol in Brigham City. He worked on minuteman missiles and intercontinental missiles for five years when the company transferred him to Pocatello, Idaho where they had bought a naval ordinance facility. They bid on the booster rocket, but lost that contract and the Pocatello facility never really took off.

"We didn't do so well up there. I had always had jobs as the supervisor and department head, and there was plenty of pressure. I had 165 people in my department. I decided to go into business on my own. I also had an offer at Boeing in Seattle, but all at once it came to me in a dream that I needed to go back to the land of my inheritance.

"I took over a plant for selling oil which Errol Litster had run and we moved ourselves from Pocatello to Huntington. We bought a home from Grant Wilson and he sold us some property and we moved the house we bought from Dragerton to our property in Huntington. That was in 1965. It was the best move for us and we have loved it here. We've been in Huntington 43 years now.

"We sold bulk plant petroleum products and I was a distributor all over Eastern Utah and we sold Amoco products. The Castle Valley Co-op eventually bought it and they store their products there," said Dorr.

Elizabeth said, "All of our children have found spouses here and have good marriages. We have always stressed education. We have doctors, dentists, nurses and teachers. We are proud of our children. They look after us very well. We've reversed roles now that Dorr is 91 and I am 90.

"I married a music man and he was a member of the Carbon High Band. In 1933 he went to Chicago with the band. Music has been a big part of our lives. Dorr is the oldest member of the Huntington Glee Club. I sang in the choir until I couldn't see the notes anymore.

"Dorr is also a Silver Beaver and has been active in scouting for 60 years. We taught 4-H for eight years and we had the loud-speakers club, rocks and minerals and science. We also worked with Elaine Hatch in the 4-H.

"Dorr was active in city and county government. He served six years on the city council and was appointed mayor for two years. He was one of the first members of the board of the Castle Valley Special Service District. He served on the board for 21 years and was secretary for 10 years and board chairman for 11 years. Eugene Johansen and Dorr Hanson helped Darrel Leamaster get his job at the district and now Leamaster is ready to retire," said Elizabeth.

Dorr said the years have gone fast. Dorr enjoys fishing and has spent much enjoyable time in the Huntington Canyon area fishing and at Lake Powell. He has taught many scouts to fish over the years. One other thing he did year after year was take the girls camp girls on a five mile hike.

Elizabeth spent her years taking care of her children and in later life she worked for the Emery County Progress doing feature articles and photography. She shot rolls of film and Dorr developed the film for her in the basement.

"I wrote a country living column. Every person has a story to tell. These people let you into their lives and you share their story with others. I used to come as a stranger and leave as a friend. After we got a computer I could type the stories up on a computer. Writing brought in a little income for me.

"We have been very involved with our church and our family. I do miss reading and writing now, because I am nearly blind and can't see to do much. But, I still mix our bread and with Dorr's help we get it baked. I still do the laundry. We came from the era of an outhouse and taking a bath in a tub by the cook stove. We do enjoy TV and all the modern conveniences now. We have fruit trees in our yard and we still can all the fruit from the trees. Our daughter Leslie lives with us and helps out a lot too," said Elizabeth.

Dorr said, "I find cell phones annoying and people shouldn't be driving with them."

Another community event Dorr and Elizabeth worked on was to get the Heritage Days celebration going. They worked with Lund Leonard. They had a boating activity on the lake and started a royalty competition for the girls. The Hansons have been honored citizens for Emery County and also grand marshals for Heritage Days.

Elizabeth taught piano for a time in her home and she is very proud of one of her students, Ben Partis who recently starred in the Man of LaMancha at Emery High. She taught all her grandchldren piano, as much as they wanted to learn.

"I spend time listening to books for the blind and Dorr reads to me. I really like it when Dorr reads to me. I have been active my whole life and it's really hard to be limited and just have to sit around a lot. My sweetheart helps me a lot and I don't know what I would do without him. Right now we are mailing Christmas boxes to all the children. Dorr helped me make the fruit cakes and we made caramel popcorn for all of them. We've tried to keep up all our traditions, but this may be the last year. I can still do a lot of things, if people help me. Dorr does all the shopping.

"I am just so proud of my family and all of their accomplishments. They are so good to us. They put up our Christmas lights and decorations.

"When you get married you need to make a team and pull together. Always lift each other up. Be positive when you talk to each other. Cherish each other, that's what I tell young people getting married; just cherish each other. Dorr is my hero. He still takes me out of the house, which is difficult.

"Out of the nine children in my family I only have one brother left, John Arnold Mathis who is 82. Dorr has all his siblings still alive and he has two brothers, one in Price and one in Salt Lake and a sister in Salt Lake," Elizabeth said.

The Hansons have been able to do some traveling to Palmyra, N.Y. and to Nauvoo, Ill. Their son lives in Washington and they have been there several times. Family is spread out now across the country with a grandson in Pennsylvania and grandchildren in Oklahoma and Colorado.

"We have appreciated everything we have ever had, after getting married in Depression times; you're just thankful for what you have. Learn to laugh together and work together. We are still working together after all these years and without my hero, I just couldn't survive," said Elizabeth.

Dorr offered this advice, "Live within your means and don't get into debt. Don't use credit cards."

After 70 years of marriage this couple is still laughing together and enjoying their time together. They don't take each other for granted and view each other as the best Christmas present ever.

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