James Benvold Hanson, 97, of Poplar Grove, IL passed away peacefully Thursday evening, November 5, 2020, at Highview in the Woodlands senior care center in Rockton IL. He had been in declining health for the last several years.
Jim was born July 30,1923, in Madison, Wisconsin, the son of Fred and Hazel Hanson. He enlisted in the US Navy on May 6, 1940, at the age of 16. While he was in training in Detroit, he attended a dance at Belle Isle casino, hosted by the Navy Anchorettes, an entertainment troupe that put on dances for enlisted sailors. There he met a beautiful young woman named Ann Elias, and the spark was lit.
Shortly thereafter, Jim was sent to Pearl Harbor, where he was stationed when the Japanese attacked on December 7, 1941. Being a man of action, he immediately saw many sailors leaping off the stricken ships at anchor, into the burning oil slick that covered much of the harbor. Commanding only a 50-foot motor launch, Jim and his crew proceeded to save many sailors from the burning inferno, and ferried them to the waiting medics on the pier, an act for which he was awarded a medal for bravery. That was just the beginning of Jim’s service in the Pacific theater where he spent the rest of World War Two..
After several years of long-distance courtship, Ann and Jim were married on August 12, 1944, in Detroit. After WWII they settled in Madison, Wisconsin, where they had two sons. Jim became a builder, but his love of aviation led him to a career as a pilot. In 1950 he started his airline career with Capital Airlines flying out of Chicago Midway Airport. In 1952 he moved his family back to Madison and became a pilot for Wisconsin Central Airlines. Wisconsin Central soon became North Central Airlines and eventually Republic Airlines where he finally retired in 1981. Over the span of his career he flew Douglas DC-3s, Lockheed 10s, Convair 340s, 440s, and 580s, DC-9s, and Boeing 727s. After his retirement Republic Airlines became part of Northwest Airlines which finally became part of Delta
Airlines. During his career after Madison he was based in Minneapolis, Detroit, and Miami.
Jim was loved and will be greatly missed by his children James (Colleen) Hanson, Jr. of Poplar Grove, IL; John (Peggy) Hanson of Burnsville, MN; grandchildren, James (Christi) Hanson III, Mark Hanson, Catherine (Ian) Sheppard and Christine (Robby) Cecil; great-grandchildren Cole, Chase, Tate, Adam, Alison, Sailor, Hazel, and Charlie; he is also survived by his brother, Frank Hanson, and many nieces and nephews. Jim was preceded in death by his parents, brother Lee, and sisters Ingabelle, Helen, Gladys, and Arline. The family wishes to thank Highview in the Woodlands Care Center and Northern Illinois Hospice for the loving care they provided to Jim.
Jim’s body will be cremated. In light of the continuing pandemic, a memorial service will be held at a later date at Christ Lutheran Church, Belvidere with Rev. Twila K. Shock presiding.
To light a candle or to share a memory, please visit www.AndersonFCS.com.