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Eileen A. Hansen

Eileen A. Hansen, age 97, of Omaha, passed away on Friday, April 16, 2021 at Memorial Hospital in Aurora.

Eileen's wishes were to be cremated. A Graveside Service will be held at 3:00 p.m., Wednesday, April 21st at the Hampton United Lutheran Cemetery, 17th & W Road, three miles north of Hampton, NE. Rev. David Feddern will officiate. No Visitation. Memorials may be made to Open Door Mission 2828 North 23rd Street East Omaha, NE 68110, Wounded Warriors Family Support, 11218 John Galt Boulevard, Suite 103, Omaha, NE 68137 or St. Andrews Episcopal Church 925 S 84th St, Omaha, NE 68114. Higby-McQuiston Mortuary is in charge of arrangements. Condolences may be e-mailed to the family through the mortuary website at www.higbymortuary.com.

OBITUARY: EILEEN A. HANSEN

Eileen A. Hansen, the daughter of George W. and Hannah C. (Nilson) Hansen, was born at Aurora, Nebraska on February 15, 1924 and passed away on April 16, 2021 at the age of 97.

Eileen grew up with her parents and two brothers on the family farm north of Hampton, Nebraska. They were of Swedish and Danish descent and attended the Danish Lutheran Church that was eventually moved to the Stuhr Museum in Grand Island. After she graduated from Hampton High school, she had no money to further her education. Eileen said, "We were what my mother called 'land poor.' And my parents had three children and three hired hands to feed." Then by "pure luck," one Sunday afternoon a Grand Island Business representative came to town to recruit students. He made her an offer she couldn't refuse. A loan for tuition, and a job as a nanny that would give her a place to live while in school. Tuition was $350, that was a lot of money in the early '40's. When Eileen graduated, she took the Civil Service exam and headed off to Washington, D.C. to begin her career and to earn money to pay back the loan.

She worked for the newly-created Navy Department Bureau of Ships. Eileen worked for 14 men. She was part of a typing pool of young women who typed specifications for construction of items for shipboard use on military ships. World War II was raging, so the work was important.

In 1945, one of the Navy officers she worked with offered her a job at the National Bureau of Standards. She started as a secretary, and eventually became an executive officer, working there for 16 years.

She took in a fellow worker as a roommate. Eileen encouraged her to apply for a Fulbright Scholarship, which she received to Oxford. She had several more roommates and one was a Fulbright Scholar from the University of Paris, from whom Eileen learned French cooking. The two stayed in touch and in 1960, Eileen visited her roommate who had returned to Paris, as well as Denmark, Switzerland, Germany, England and Scotland. She also traveled to her mother’s native Sweden- spending a week with family there. Her French friend has visited her in the states three times and they had traveled to Branson and the Black Hills. Over the years she went to the White House for tea a few times, meeting both First Lady Bess Truman and First Lady Pat Nixon.

While at the Bureau of Standards in order to get a promotion she had to continue her education. Eileen got an associates arts degree, a bachelor's degree in public administration and government, and then obtained her law degree at the American University College of Law in 1962.

Eileen was offered a job at the Pentagon, the Department of Defense in the Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Ballistic Missile Defense Research and Engineering that she never even applied for. Eileen was the only woman in the agency. Eileen told them, "I'd worked with men all my life, so what else is new?" She had a 10-year career at the Pentagon during the Kennedy era. It was a very challenging job. Time meant nothing: holidays meant nothing; 16-hour days were routine.

During her time at the Pentagon Eileen worked with veterans and said the experiences remained with you. Her brother was in the Korean War and when he came back, he wouldn't talk about it. She knew firsthand that veterans needed her help.

While at the Pentagon, having passed the bar, she went to the Supreme Court, when Warren Burger was Chief Justice, taking the oath before the full Court. Eileen had planned to go over to the Supreme Court by herself to be sworn in, her co-workers at the Pentagon thought differently, and trooped en masse to watch the administration of their colleague's oath in 1969. Eileen was awarded the Civilian Service Medal. The medal is one of the two highest recognitions available to civilians in the Department of Defense.

She returned to Nebraska in 1972, after spending nearly 30 years in Washington, D.C., to practice law. Eileen joined attorney Wilbur Smith, forming Smith & Hansen which was located just down the street from the Douglas County Courthouse. After Mr. Smith passed away Eileen continued practicing alone until retiring.

One reason to return home was that her parents needed help so she traveled twice a week to the family farm to help them. Her father passed away and at the age of 95, Eileen's mother was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

Eileen expended an enormous amount of time, with minimal financial reward, to be available to anyone in need of a guardian or conservator, including much work for the Veterans Administration. She searched high and low for guardians and conservators and if she could not find one, she often became one herself for as long as necessary. Eileen was known for going above and beyond what she was asked to do, she left no stone unturned.

She was a long-time member of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, gave her time and donations to many charitable organizations including the Open Door Mission and Veterans organizations.

She was preceded in death by her parents; two brothers, Jabe (Marian) Hansen and Paul Hansen and an infant sister.

Those who remain to cherish her memory are her many cousins, friends, professional colleagues, and the many people she took time to help.

A special thanks goes to Lorraine Boyd who wrote an article for The Daily Record from July 10, 2014 "An Extraordinary Woman: An Extraordinary Life", from which much of the above information was taken.

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