John Hansen, seated, Jason Perry and Tom Jennings attend a dedication for a bench honoring John’s father, Larry Hansen at the Roswell Adult Center, Wednesday morning. (Mark Wilson Photo)
Family, friends and admirers of Larry Hansen gathered Wednesday at Roswell Adult Center to honor the longtime volunteer for a life of service. A clay-colored concrete bench has been placed in Hansen’s honor outside the center, where Hansen taught lapidary for 26 years.
Former Mayor Tom Jennings led the ceremony and spoke about the impact Hansen made in the Roswell area. Hansen, who passed away in 2009, received the Lawrence O’Brien Democratic Party Achievement Award in 1995, a national award in which Hansen was nominated by Jennings and received recommendations from former Gov. Bruce King and then-Sen. Jeff Bingaman.
“He really worked to make politics a respected thing and to enhance it for low-income (families), for people who needed it,” Jennings said. “It wasn’t a handout but a hand up, and Larry was always there with his hand extended.”
Hansen’s accomplishments during his years in Roswell from 1979 until his death included his work as chairman of the Chaves County Democratic Party, president of the Roswell Sertoma Club, president of the Heart Association of Roswell and volunteering as a tutor at El Capitan Elementary School.
“He was really busy,” said Hansen’s son John. “He helped out with BLM, he helped out at local schools. He was just always busy, always running around.”
Hansen, along with Jennings, was also a founding member of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeastern New Mexico and created the Pecos Diamond Display for Bottomless Lakes State Park.
“Some of the things people don’t know about Larry was he was an engineer and an innovator,” Jennings said. “He had numerous electronic patents, basically regarding communication towers that are still used — and vital — in today’s communications.
“He was an unsung hero in the Roswell Sertoma Club, he helped us build a neighborhood park by the Tobosa center, and helped build a playground at Cielo Grande. In the schools he was active in reading programs and outreach.
“He just made a really positive impact and enhancement of our community, our state, and really our country, with his efforts.”
Gina Vaughn, a former student of Hansen’s at RAC, said the center wanted to honor Hansen for his decades of work with Rockhounds and other lapidary clubs. “We really wanted something in stone, because that was his thing,” Vaughn said. “He literally made thousands of cabochons.”
“He was a giver,” she said. “From the moment I met him, he was just the nicest gentlemen in the world, and you knew right away he gave of himself his whole life. The community was very lucky to have him.”