Long-time South Elgin Village President Jim Hansen dies
By Janelle Walker For Sun-Times Media November 2, 2013 12:50PM
South Elgin Village President Jim Hansen, who died Friday night. | Sun-Times Media file
Updated: November 7, 2013 7:56PM
SOUTH ELGIN — Long-time Village President Jim Hansen died late Friday night at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin following a battle with lung cancer first diagnosed shortly after the spring election. He was 53.
Those who worked with Hansen on the village board remembered him as a man who cared deeply for the community he was born and raised in, and as a man who put village interests above politics.
Hansen was first elected to the village board in 1991, and was elected village president in 2001 following a contentious race. He won that election in a four-way contest that left him with 47.3 percent of the vote.
At the time, Hansen said he believed his biggest job “is to be a consensus-builder,” and that a less fractionalized board than that seen in prior years would be more communicative with residents.
“My plan in a perfect world is that I would never have to vote” to break a tie, Hansen said in 2001.
Since his election, Hansen rarely had to use the deciding vote to break a 3-3 tie on the village board. Board members said Saturday they could remember just two such votes in those 12 years. One of those votes was in 2005 to increase building permit fees, and the second in August to approve the River’s Edge apartment building.
He was missing from the dais at the last two village board meetings as he remained in the hospital receiving treatment.
“As soon as he got the diagnosis in July, he did tell each (board trustee) what the diagnosis was. He was very open with all of us,” said Trustee Lisa Guess.
“He was going to see a doctor for treatment, and when we asked he was very open with us, about what the treatment was and how he was feeling. He was always positive about the next step in the treatment.”
Guess first ran for the village board 10 years ago at Hansen’s urging, she added.
“I had been approached before, but it wasn’t the right time. When Jim approached me, it was … I am ready to do this and work for my village that I grew up in, that we both grew up in, and for those who live here,” she said.
In the years that Hansen served on the board and as village president, South Elgin expanded to the west, building up its Randall Road business corridor and adding large housing developments, including the Thornwood and Robins Glenn subdivisions.
But his legacy was keeping the village’s hometown feel, Guess said.
“Having grown up in South Elgin … he wanted to move forward and do what was best for the village and the people, maintain the hometown feel — a friendly, warm and welcoming feeling for the village,” Guess said.
South Elgin Fire Protection District Chief Joe Cluchey said it was almost appropriate that Hansen died on Nov. 1 — All Saints Day.
“I am not saying he was a saint,” Cluchey said. “But it was a good day to end suffering.”
He had visited with Hansen several times during his hospitalization, and the pain was evident in Hansen’s eyes, Cluchey said.
“He was trying to hold on for his family as long as he could,” Cluchey said.
Hansen was a manager at NAPA Auto Parts, but was hired by Kane County a few years ago to become second-in-command for purchasing in the county.
“He made the purchasing department more effective,” said Kane County Board member Mike Kenyon, who represents South Elgin.
“It was a move in the right direction,” when Hansen came on board, he said. “You would have thought the county would have been more sophisticated,” in its purchasing practices, Kenyon said. “He helped professionalize the county.”
During Hansen’s years as board president, Kenyon said, he oversaw significant growth in parks and recreation development, offering more services to the community.
Hansen was instrumental in the development of Concord Park and its baseball fields, said Trustee Steve Ward.
“We were both involved in Little League and Jim became the president,” of the league, Ward said.
At that time, however, the street leading to Concord Park and the baseball fields was gravel, and the parking lot was dirt.
“It was pretty crappy,” Ward said.
He and Hansen began soliciting for donations to improve the park and fields, and were able to secure funding to add lights to one of the fields before more houses were built up around it, Ward said.
“He was instrumental in creating the fields, as president of the league and being on the board.”
“Jim will be missed as the mayor and as the man. He was a real mayor. He was mayor for the people — he didn’t like the limelight and he didn’t need the applause,” Kenyon said. “He was the right guy for the job and we loved and respected him for the way he was.”
Hansen was born July 29, 1960, in Elgin to James and Maxine (Murphy) Hansen. He is survived by his wife, Teri (Spencer), whom he married in 1981, and sons Dustin (Jennifer), Scott (Shannon) and Daniel (Hana Dillon) Hansen. He is also survived by four grandchildren, Aiden, Marcus, Addison and Devin; his mother, Maxine Hansen; brother Don (Linda) Hansen; mother-in-law Bonnie Spencer; and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his father James; his father-in-law, Eugene Spencer; and faithful companion “Archie.”
Visitation is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 6, from 3 to 9 p.m. at Laird Funeral Home, 310 S. State St. (Route 31), in Elgin. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Thursday at the funeral home. Burial will be at Bluff City Cemetery in Elgin. For further service information, call 847-741-8800 or visit www.lairdfamilyfuneralservices.com.