Deceased May 16, 2019
Bruce Hanson died May 16, 2019, survived by his devoted wife Jean Alexander, two stepchildren, and four grandchildren.
Despite reluctance to call attention to himself, Bruce had a spectacular Amherst career and a noteworthy life championing civil rights and social justice. At Amherst, his citizenship, service and steady personality were evident from day one. The 1957 yearbook notes that he played freshman basketball, varsity lacrosse, was vice president of the Christian Association and served on the Student Council. Bruce was ubiquitous in volunteer activities and was elected to the Junior Honor Society (Sphinx) and then the Senior Honor Society (Scarab), serving as president. Post-graduation, Bruce received an Amherst-Doshisha Fellowship to study in Japan.
Bruce graduated from Union Theological Seminary and was ordained in 1961. He was a participant/facilitator/advocate in some of the major civil rights struggles of that era. He was at the Lincoln Memorial when M. L. King Jr. delivered his “I have a dream” speech; he trained students who challenged segregation and voter suppression in the south; he advocated for Cesar Chavez’s Farm Workers Union in California; and local organizations in the southwest.
In 1971, Bruce joined the Center for Community Change, a Washington-based organization focused on economic and social justice issues affecting low income and minority people. In retirement Bruce continued to serve as an advisor to programs he helped to organize.
At our 40th reunion, Bruce, Kif Knight ’57, Dick Anderson ’57, Phil Hastings ’57, Stephen Yale ’57, Stu Tuller ’57 and Pierce Gardner ’57 formed a group to celebrate good health and Amherst friendships and met annually (with additions and subtractions) for 20-plus years.
Over five decades, Bruce served as the unofficial “pastor” for a summer colony of family and friends of Pierce Gardner ’57, performing numerous weddings; memorial services; blessings of children, pets, etc., for multiple generations.
We celebrate a life well lived.
Pierce Gardner ’57