John Caesar Hansen, first-born son of William Bryan Hansen and Lorraine Fedderly Hansen, passed away quietly at home on May 26, 2019, surrounded by his family. John was named in honor of his grandfather Julius Caesar Hansen. The cause of death was cancer.
John is survived by his wife, Martha Worthley; mother, Lorraine (Tee) Hansen; sons Oscar Maxwell Caesar Hansen Tuazon (wife Dorothée Perret and children Nuage LePage, Tacoma Lorraine and Rain Mauve) and Elias John Ambler Hansen (wife Mary Blair Hansen and children Frances Maybellene Keep and Smokey Rose Ambler); brothers Jim and Bob Hansen and their families; stepdaughters Pilar and Miriam McCracken; and his first wife, Anna Linzer.
A memorial gathering is scheduled for Sunday, June 30, 2019, 2 p.m. at the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend, Wash.
John was born in Yakima, Wash. According to his mother, Tee, his parents waited to have a baby until the war was over. “There never was a more anticipated child,” she said. Less than two years later, the family was joined by twin brothers Jim and Bob. John had early training with babies and keeping children entertained that held him in good stead throughout life.
John was a lifelong baseball fan, encouraged early on by scoring a winning run in Little League. He loved the Mariners and recalled game and player statistics of many teams far in the past. John’s motto was “Sports page first, front page second,” said his brother Bob of John reading the baseball box scores before his younger brothers. “John had a lot of baseball cards,” Bob recalled. “He had a Willie Mays and all those guys.”
Their uncle owned an orchard in Yakima, and John’s early jobs were working in the orchards. He graduated from West Valley High School, where he was ASB president and identified as a Goldwater Republican. At Whitworth College he thought he might train to be a Methodist minister. But his politics and religious ideas took a permanent swerve to the left, and he transferred to the University of Washington.
John was against the war in Vietnam and instead chose to serve in Vista. He was sent to Hazard, Ky. He often spoke of this experience and the people he met in Kentucky, and he stayed in touch with his fellow Vista volunteers throughout his life. John campaigned for Bobby Kennedy in 1968 and George McGovern in 1972. He was committed to the Civil Rights movement and called himself a recovering racist. A strong believer in non-violent change, he admired Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela. In later years he attended the WTO protest in Seattle and joined the Seattle Women’s March in January 2017. John was a feminist: he believed in equal rights for women, and he valued and appreciated women’s contributions and ways of being in the world. He also called himself a recovering misogynist. This awareness about himself evolved through his longtime study of Buddhism and practice of Insight Meditation. He admired the teaching of Rodney Smith, with whom he studied for many years. At some point in his spiritual and political development, John made a strong commitment to acting out of loving kindness. This is a quality that resonated with the many people who wrote to John in the days before he died.
In the 1970s, John moved to Indianola, Wash., where he met and married Carol Anne Beard (Annie). Together they founded the Watermark Bindery in 1973, selling their handmade blank books to independent booksellers up and down the West Coast. They had two sons, Oscar and Eli.
At that time there were many young families in Indianola. “Dad would drive around in his ’62 Nova, pick up all the kids and take them down to the church camp to play baseball,” said Eli. “There was a stretch of the road where you were allowed to swear, but only in that stretch. John loved baseball. He wanted to share it with Oscar and me. We never got into it. He wanted us to love it the way he did, but if we didn’t, he wasn’t going to be bummed. That was when he got us into More New Games and More New Games 2—low contact and low competition. It was way more about having fun.” The family also hiked and explored the Olympics and camped at Moose Lake, located in a subalpine valley in Olympic National Park.
John helped found the Indianola Land Trust, one of the first in Washington State. He also worked with the Suquamish Tribe to build the Indianola baseball field for kids. He had a strong love and respect for his Suquamish neighbors and spoke of his time with elders Mac and Woodie Louery and Lawrence Webster, from whom he learned stories of growing up in Indianola and came to understand the prejudice of the political and social policies they endured.
Following his divorce, John moved to Port Townsend and enrolled his son Eli at Port Townsend High School. The Bindery moved with John and became a gathering place for artists as well as Eli’s high school friends. For young people, John was the listener, questioner, supporter of their dreams. For all of them he was the consummate conversationalist. John believed that “humans love narrative.” He loved stories, collected stories, and told stories. Oscar recalled the phone in the bindery: “John was talking the whole time he was making books, the phone covered in glue.”
During the last 25 years in Port Townsend, John took up tango dancing, sat in the front row with Martha at the Rose, swam at the pool, walked all over downtown, and started a new career in real estate. All that storytelling went into helping others find their new story.
John got his first passport at the age of 59 to visit Martha during the year she was teaching in Guadalajara, Mexico. In their 14 years together, they traveled to see Oscar and family in Paris, Eli and family in the Hudson Valley, friends in New York City, Miriam and Pilar in New Orleans, Italy with brother Jim and sister-in-law Maxine, and Barcelona and London just for fun. They married in 2013.
John and Martha made a home together that welcomed all their children and grandchildren, who fondly called him Papi John. It was his great joy to spend time with the grandchildren, wherever they were. He often took the kids to every park or playground in town and always ended up with them at Elevated Ice Cream. When traveling from California to see John one last time, Oscar’s family decided to follow the WWPJD rule that has become a family motto: What Would Papi John Do? One rule: Have Fun. John loved his sons. He loved what they were creating with their lives and their families.
He was an eternal fan of Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Van Morrison, and his family.
We are eternal fans of John.