A gas station at Everett’s Rucker Avenue and 38th Street, that’s where Ron Hansen started his business. It was 1959. Within months of opening, his service station added a tow truck, just one. So began Hansen’s Towing & Transport.
Although he was 81, the company’s founder and owner never really stopped working.
“Mr. Hansen was in the office until about five weeks ago,” said Mike Garner, manager of Hansen’s Towing. “He just wanted to take care of people. That’s all he cared about.”
Ronald Harris Hansen died Nov. 5 after battling pancreatic cancer. His funeral, with a planned procession of tow trucks, is scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday at Everett’s Evergreen Funeral Home. As of Tuesday, the procession route had yet to be decided.
A 1955 graduate of Everett High School, Hansen is survived by Kathy Hansen, his wife of 18 years; daughters Pam Carlson and Sharon Hansen; stepchildren Debra Strows, Melissa DeLeon, Patricio DeLeon; and several grandchildren.
About a decade ago, Kathy Hansen said, her husband celebrated 50 years of being in business with a party at the Everett Golf and Country Club, “a retirement party — but he never retired.”
Along with Hansen’s Towing, at 3511 Smith Ave. near Everett Station, he owned two more businesses. Harry’s Towing and Discount Towing & Recovery are both in Marysville. In all, Garner said, the businesses have 12 employees.
“He’d been around this community forever, and was so good to the community,” Kathy Hansen said. “If he needed something, he’d try to buy it in Everett.”
He was born in Bellevue on Sept. 27, 1937, the only child of Harris Hansen and Isabel Finson Hansen. The family moved to Everett when he was a child, and he lived most of his life here. After high school, he joined the U.S. Navy and was stationed in Bremerton.
Garner has worked for Hansen Towing about six years. “When I came on board, he was transitioning more into the office, not on the truck,” he said. Still, there were times Garner saw his boss doing the muscle work.
“We did a rollover together, a Rubatino truck,” Garner said. “He was about 77, and still out there with large recovery chains, heavier than him, throwing them by my side.
“At night when there weren’t enough people to recover the tows, he’d go out there and grab them himself, at 79, 80 years old,” Garner said.
People in need of a tow truck aren’t often in the best mood. Still, “I’ve seen that man jump through incredible hoops for people,” Garner said. “But if you crossed him, you poked the bear a little too hard.”
Hansen took issue with the city at times, particularly over homeless people camped on the sidewalk near his Smith Avenue business. In a letter to the editor published in The Herald in 2015, Hansen wrote: “I just wonder if this homeless ‘encampment’ were in front of City Hall, how long it would last.”
Garner said Hansen’s chemotherapy didn’t stop him from coming to the office.
“Even when he was in the hospital, phones were forwarded to him,” he said. “He was dispatching from his hospital bed.”
Business was business, but Hansen had a softer side.
As a boy, he spent summers with his grandparents in Bellingham. “He’d go fishing every day with his grandpa,” his widow said. “They’d come back and he’d work in the rose garden with his grandma. He always had a love of roses, and we have a beautiful rose garden.”
Hansen also loved going to Palm Desert, California, where the couple have a home on a golf course.
Kathy Hansen said her husband’s indomitable work ethic kept him from fishing or playing golf very often. He did have a passion for cruises, among them a favorite trip through the Panama Canal.
Garner said Hansen could be tough at times, but he had a heart for others.
“I remember getting my butt chewed — and I’m wishing I could have one more day of it,” he said. “He was more of a grandfather to me than a boss. He took that same attitude for the community, and magnified it.”
A funeral service for Ron Hansen is scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday at Evergreen Funeral Home, 4504 Broadway, Everett. A potluck gathering at the funeral home will follow.