A driving force in the Gardiner community on many fronts, Barney Hansen succumbed to cancer in April of this year. He will be missed by many for many reasons, but his gift of living by example is one of the strongest legacies he leaves behind. Barney found many avenues through which to connect and give back to the community. When he put time and effort into a project, others saw its value and were inspired. Barney put energy into the Gardiner Fire Department, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Gardiner Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals. Barney’s last subdivision, Ohioville Acres, will be the first subdivision to enact Gardiner’s new affordable housing law. Barney was a strong believer in pay it forward; for every good deed he performed, the recipient was often inspired to do a good deed for someone else.
As I sat at Café Mio, across the table from Linda Majetich-Hansen, Barney’s ex-wife and good friend, we talked about the little details that make up the kernel of another person’s being. I mentioned how 20 years ago, when I was building houses, a woman in a man’s world, Barney always treated me with kindness and respect and shared his expertise and knowledge with generosity. Years later, I still feel gratitude for that gift. Though we sometimes found ourselves on opposite sides of the fence on various issues, Barney and I learned to respect each others point of view. Linda shared a story about Barney’s last days that pretty much summed up his philosophy of making lemonade out of lemons. He said, “I’m not happy that I have terminal cancer but I intend to live the rest of my life, however short it may be, with as little regret and as much enjoyment as possible.” Barney then proceeded to spend the last months of his life seeing old friends, saying good-bye, and finding ways to laugh at the Grim Reaper. Barney created a legacy that will endure in the annals of Gardiner history for many years to come.