Friday, Oct 19, 2018
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Rolland I. Hansen (1924-2018)

Clay Center fire chief excelled at making repairs

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CLAY CENTER, Ohio — Rolland I. Hansen, the first fire chief of the Ottawa County village he called home and who used his mechanical skill to retrofit and repair the department’s fleet, died Tuesday in Perrysburg Commons assisted-living facility. He was 93.

He mostly had coronary problems, his son Roland “Buck” Hansen said. Stents followed bypass surgery, and he later had surgery on aortic aneurysms. He survived a stroke in his 60s and another at age 89.

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Hansen

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He had a mechanic’s practical attitude: Everything could be repaired.

“You just had to find the right mechanic to do it,” his son said.

Mr. Hansen was named by village council as the first chief of the new Clay Center Volunteer Fire Department in February, 1962, according to a history of Clay Center co-written for the town’s 125th anniversary by its last fire chief, William Nissen. In 1999, three area departments combined to form the Allen-Clay Joint Fire District.

Mr. Hansen resigned as chief in 1976. He retired in 1978 as a millwright at the Libbey-Owens-Ford Co. in Rossford, where he worked for more than 30 years.

He was born Nov. 4, 1924, to Margareta and John Hansen, who eventually had 11 children. He was young when his father died, and he and his brothers ran the family farm near Oak Harbor. He left school after fifth grade.

In his teens, he worked as a cook at restaurants near Swayne Field in Toledo. He was an Army veteran of World War II and spoke of his combat experiences in Europe. He became a staff sergeant.

He applied for a job at L-O-F after a brother was hired there. He made sure machines remained in good repair so that glass production continued uninterrupted.

“He had a natural talent that he could look at things, see what was wrong, figure out what was needed, and put it back together,” his son said.

Back in Clay Center, he joined the effort to form a fire and rescue department. The first piece of fire equipment the department bought was a 1939 Dodge pumper, according to Mr. Nissen’s volume.

“He was a motivated person,” son Roland said. “It’s amazing to me how this man could do what he did, with a little education and a lot of ingenuity and organizational skills.”

Mr. Hansen made sure later acquisitions met the department’s needs by, for instance, adding a larger tank, his son Terry Hansen said.

“He was a person who wasn’t afraid to help anybody,” son Terry said. That included helping his siblings with home remodeling projects.

In retirement, Mr. Hansen and his wife, Hilda, traveled the country in their motor home, spending winters in either Florida or Texas.

“They had a map of the United States and put a mark on every state they visited,” son Roland said.

He and the former Hilda Zunk married Oct. 8, 1946. She died Jan. 24, 1995. Their daughter Susan Norwalk died Feb. 9, 2007.

Surviving are his sons, Roland “Buck” and Terry Hansen; daughter, Marsha Wolf; brother, Ralph Hansen; sisters, Martha Jamie, Margaret Scherf, and Leona Behlmer, and grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 2-8 p.m. Friday in the Robinson-Walker Funeral Home, Genoa, with a Masonic service at 7 p.m. in the mortuary. Funeral services will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday in St. John Lutheran Church, Williston, Ohio, where he was a member.

The family suggests tributes to Station 35 of the Allen-Clay Joint Fire District, Genoa; St. John Lutheran Church, Williston; or Heartland Hospice, Perrysburg.

Contact Mark Zaborney at mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.

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