Skip Hanson ’59 had a deep and abiding devotion to Webb, a school that he held close to his heart. He demonstrated this devotion over decades through his actions and his leadership. As Hanson’s extraordinary life was coming to a close, he talked openly about Webb and why Webb was so important to him.
In the summer of 2018, Hanson said that when he arrived on the Webb campus in the mid 1950s, he felt that he had “come home.” He felt that Thompson and Vivian Web, the Webb faculty and staff took a sincere interest in him as an individual, as a student and as an athlete. Hanson carried those early impressions with him for the next six decades, through two tours of duty with the U.S. Navy in Vietnam, through a successful career as an early leader in the commercial property management business and as trustee at The Webb Schools.
Serving as a Webb trustee for over twelve years, Hanson oversaw Webb’s complex insurance and risk management needs and led the school through the annual process to ensure that Webb was properly protected at all times. Hanson admitted to a fascination with Webb’s infrastructure, particularly the less-glamorous but highly critical infrastructure that could not be seen, including the underground pipes that carried water to various points on campus. He knew that maintaining these pipes and all infrastructure, seen and unseen, was critical to maintaining Webb’s campus.
To honor Hanson’s commitment, Webb Director of Finance, Planning and Operations Janet Peddy created an award recognizing Hanson’s work. The award was a trophy constructed of old and rusted (but authentic!) pipes from the Webb campus. That award remained prominently on a shelf where Hanson could see it every day. In addition to his leadership in insurance and risk management, Hanson chaired Webb’s Real Estate Trust Committee, guiding Webb through issues relating to the acquisition of real estate either for the campus, or presented to Webb as charitable gifts.
Hanson’s devotion to Webb went far beyond Webb’s physical plant, to include Webb’s students. In 1990, Hanson, along with his brother, Robert M. Hanson ’62, and their father, Wayne A. Hanson, created The Bertha M. Lynch Principes Non Homines Scholarship in memory of the Hansons’ maternal grandmother. Given Hanson’s strong inclination to not only demonstrate leadership, but to nurture it in others, this scholarship is awarded to students with the following attributes: admirable qualities of character, academic excellence, financial need, the potential to contribute positively to the spirit and life of the Webb community (athletics, performing arts, publications, etc.) and demonstrated leadership potential.
As Hanson’s health began to fail in 2018, he was determined to finalize his wishes for Webb in a series of meetings. With his devoted wife, Sharon, at his side, Hanson carefully outlined a very significant estate gift to Webb to forever provide financial aid for generations of Bertha M. Lynch Scholars. Hanson recognized that providing access to the most qualified students, regardless of financial capability is central to Webb’s mission now, and in the century ahead.
Two months after Hanson passed away on June 28, 2018, Sharon Hanson and a small handful of family members gathered on the Webb campus – the place that Hanson called “my home.” Sitting quietly in the late afternoon sun, at the southwest corner of the Vivian Webb Chapel, the group recited Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem “Crossing the Bar,” led by Head of Schools Taylor Stockdale:
Sunset and evening star, And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea.
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which I drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark.
For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have cross’d the bar.
One year later, in October 2019, Webb learned the full impact of Hanson’s leadership. The estate gift is one of the largest legacy gifts that Webb has received in its history and will allow Webb to provide financial aid to numerous Bertha Lynch Scholars each and every year.
Hanson’s devotion and leadership will live in perpetuity in these future students, who will also call Webb “my home.”