NORSELAND — Judy Hanson — a farmer, a mother, and a bedrock supporter of her church and rural community — managed to get more than a few tasks done before her death Tuesday at the age of 70.
The rural St. Peter resident was a writer and blogger, a quilter and dressmaker, a 16-year member of the Nicollet County Board and a lobbyist when she thought lawmakers needed some talking to, a keeper of history and a woman who liked to dance to '50s rock 'n' roll.
"She was just a woman to look up to," said Sue Schott, who said Hanson taught her "how to be a farm wife."
Schott met her own husband in college and followed him back to farming after they'd lived in New York working in corporate America. They bought a farm in Minnesota and Schott found Hanson at a Bible study group at the Scandia Grove Lutheran Church in 1974. Hanson was just five years older chronologically, but she had plenty of wisdom to offer the novice on how to keep a farmer happy.
"Always have some food on the table for one thing," Schott said. "And always have the table set so your husband thinks dinner's ready. We joked a lot."
Hanson shared her thoughts on rural life in newspaper columns and in a blog while also tackling some of the biggest challenges facing the region. She was elected to four terms on the Nicollet County Board, retiring in 2010 after 16 years.
"I admired her for her tenacity," said Bridgette Kennedy, the Nicollet County auditor and a 40-year county employee. "She was very passionate about the concerns of her constituents. But it was not just her constituents, it was concern for the entire county."
"On a personal level, she was a very kind and compassionate person as well," Kennedy said.