Cover photo for John E. Hanson's Obituary
John E. Hanson Profile Photo
1934 John 2024

John E. Hanson

August 3, 1934 — January 23, 2024


Do you love sardines, guns and a nice room temperature Fat Tire IPA? Even if you like none of these things, you would have adored John “Stuben” Hanson, because honestly everyone did. 

John passed away peacefully on January 23, 2024. He was a consummate Renaissance man who appreciated the simple pleasures of life: time with family and friends, good food and drink, the great outdoors, and working with his hands. Anyone who knew John’s craftsmanship as a carpenter knew how meticulous he was—and what pride he took in not only doing a good job but being a good person. When an elderly neighbor hired John for work, he accepted her cast iron skillets in lieu of cash. If he was going to clear snow on the sidewalk in front of his house, you can be sure he would do the entire block. The only thing more steadfast than John’s incredible work ethic was the consistent way we all saw him: Kind. Selfless. Funny. True. 

 John was born in Rushford, MN, to parents John G. and Edna M. Hanson—proud first-generation Americans who came from Norway. One of five boys, John grew up in Whalan, MN, and graduated from Lanesboro High School in 1952. Shortly thereafter, he began working with his father on the Milwaukee railroad (bridge crew). In 1954, he joined the U.S. Army and served two years, achieving the rank of Sergeant. John learned his carpentry skills from his father and used his innate artistry to build custom homes and buildings, as well as furniture and cabinetry. To him, nothing was ‘ordinary’ but rather bespoke, creative and flawless. The highlight of a trip to Holien’s Grocery store in Whalan was meeting his wife, Marlyn Holien. They married in June 1961 and moved to Chatfield, where they raised their two children, Craig and Teresa. 

 As for his many hobbies, John never embraced them halfheartedly. From firearms and fly fishing to photography and hunting—he pursued all with rabid interest and curiosity. A proud NRA member, John could often be found downstairs in his workshop carefully restoring and building beautiful custom gun stocks. He loved dogs and westerns and wine, and he never met a stinky fish he didn’t like. Faith was a huge part of John’s life—he attended every service he physically could at Chatfield Lutheran. It is a widely accepted fact that John was the joke teller you wish you were, regularly cracking up his family and all who loved him with his light-hearted silliness. He relished a good story and turned every interaction into a chance to share, learn and connect. 

 John will be missed dearly by Marlyn, Craig, Teresa, brother David, 20 nieces, 10 nephews and as many friends and neighbors as any man could have possibly made in several lifetimes.

 A Celebration of Life will take place Friday – February 9, 2024, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Chatfield Center for the Arts – Legion Room (405 S. Main Street in Chatfield – 4th Street Entrance), following a private family ceremony at the Minnesota State Veteran’s Cemetery in Preston, MN.

 In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Alzheimer's Association (

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Friday, February 9, 2024

2:00 - 4:00 pm (Central time)

Chatfield Center for the Arts

405 Main St S, Chatfield, MN 55923

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