Cover photo for Ivy Hansen's Obituary
Ivy Hansen Profile Photo
1926 Ivy 2017

Ivy Hansen

August 24, 1926 — March 18, 2017

“I’ve got things to do” is the creed on which Ivy Mae Hill Hansen of Tetonia based her life.  She passed away on Saturday, March 18, 2017, at the age of 90, surrounded by her children.

Ivy’s remarkable life was chronicled in the Teton Valley News in 1992, when she was named Teton County’s Farm Wife of the Year, an annual award by the Teton County Farm Bureau to honor a woman who exemplifies rural values and skills.  Ivy was featured in several other Teton Valley News articles describing her success in her 70s still working the family dairy farm with her husband, Frank Hansen, and in raising nine children.

Ivy was born on August 4, 1926 in Richvale to John and Ivy Dixon Hill.  They had traveled from Leeds, England to homestead in the Packsaddle area of Teton County.  Ivy was the seventh of nine children.  Her brothers and sisters were Ethel, Wayne, Erma, Murel, Melvin, Esther, Lavina, Norma, and Edwin.

Ivy was named after her mother, remembered as a hard worker who could make mittens from old coats. Ivy’s father worked the family farm, and also ran a clothing store for a time. Ivy spent her summers herding sheep on the hillside. She made 50 cents for an entire summer of work.

When Ivy was nine years old, her mother died suddenly of an aneurism. Her father died three years later of cancer, when she was only thirteen. After that, Ivy made her own way, and also helped her older sister Murel take care of the younger children.  Ivy spent her high school years earning room and board with different families in St. Anthony, Sugar City and Teton Valley.

After graduating from Teton High School in 1944, Ivy applied for and got a job with the FBI in Washington, D.C. She put in 10-hour days at the FBI and soon became an expert in classifying and indexing fingerprints. Within two years, she was elevated from a Class II to a Class IX status. She received a letter from J. Edgar Hoover commemorating her work. She also tried out for the FBI’s women’s basketball team and spent two years as the team’s point guard.

Ivy missed her brothers and sisters, however, and the quiet beauty of the Teton Valley. In August 1946, she returned home for a month-long visit. While at a dance, she became reacquainted with Frank Hansen.  They had met before she headed off to Washington to work for the FBI, but at that time he thought she was too young to date.  “He was surprised to see me, and I thought he would be married long ago,” she once recalled. Frank was still single, and during that August, he enticed Ivy to stay in the Teton Valley.

They were married in October 1946 in the L.D.S. Temple in Salt Lake City, and settled on the family farm in Clawson that had been homesteaded by Frank’s father, David. Life in those early years could be tough.  Their first home together had two rooms, a wood burning stove for cooking and heat, and no running water.  Ivy sewed all her children’s shirts and dresses, and even made their soap from lard and lye.

Frank and Ivy worked the farm together.  They often rose before sunrise, and went to bed long after, to milk the family’s herd of cows twice a day.  At first they milked by hand. Eventually their dairy operation grew to include automated milking machines and more than 100 cows. Over the years, they have also raised cattle, and grown hay, barley and potatoes on part of their 800 acres.

In between milking, Ivy did all the things necessary to keep the farm running, from balancing books to baling hay.  In winter, she could be seen atop a hay bale with a pitch fork, tossing hay to the cows below, her breath turning to steam in the frozen air. In fall, she would harvest potatoes alongside her children.  In spring, she planted hay, and in summer she watered, swathed and baled, working late into the night to get the hay in before the rain came.

Ivy’s greatest joy in life came from being a mother and raising nine children, Joan, Mike, Mark, Laron, David, Brad, Ron, Julie and Lana.  Her son Mark remembers sitting on Ivy’s lap while she drove a tractor, being lulled to sleep, and “waking up lying by a furrow and waiting for Mom to come back.”

Ivy also loved being a grandmother and having her numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren come for visits on the farm.  She always had a pot of soup or chili on the stove ready to feed a full house, and could whip up a Sunday dinner for 50, complete with her “famous” hand-made rolls.  She often said her own mother said a good cook was someone who could make a meal with what they had on hand.

In every spare minute that she could find, Ivy made beautiful quilts that are now precious keepsakes for all who received them.  She has painstakingly stitched together thousands of color-coordinated fabric pieces into intricate designs, and then lovingly quilted them. She has made beautiful quilts for all of her children and many grandchildren, and used to complete six to eight quilts a year. She’s been offered more than a thousand dollars for one of her quilts.

Frank and Ivy stressed the importance of education to their family. All of their children graduated from college, and seven of them have worked as teachers. All six of the boys were championship wrestlers and earned scholarships to Bring Young University. One year, the BYU wrestling team placed fourth in the nation, with four of the ten positions filled by Hansen brothers.

Frank and Ivy were also faithful members of the L.D.S. Church, and stressed the importance of church to their children. Ivy often finished milking on Sunday mornings so Frank and the boys could go to priesthood meeting. Seven of her children served full-time LDS missions, often interrupting their wrestling careers to do so.

The love of travel and seeing new places that led Ivy from the Teton Valley to Washington, D.C. when she was only 18 continued throughout her life. She visited Germany, Switzerland, Austria, France, Scotland, Italy and Mexico.

Throughout her 90 years in the Teton Valley that she loved so dearly, Ivy was like a force of nature, taking charge and making things happen.

Ivy’s son Brad wrote a tribute to his mother, including the following words: “She was never too busy to listen or to talk to you. She would always sacrifice her time and put us first. … She was interested and wanted you to do your best. … Her interest and concern have never failed us even as we have grown older. … The factor which I feel contributed to her success and ours, too, was her sacrifice. … Her most unique and special ability is love.”

Ivy is survived by her sisters, Lavina Miller and Norma Corkhill; her nine children and their spouses: Joan Jones (Roy); Mike Hansen (Sherice); Mark Hansen (Julie); Laron Hansen (Beverly); David Hansen (Cherie); Brad Hansen (Emily); Ron Hansen (Dana); Julie Crockett (Todd); Lana Robertson (Morgan); 38 grandchildren; and 41 great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held at 11:00 a.m. Friday, March 24, 2017 at the Tetonia LDS Church. The family will receive friends Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. and on Friday from 9:30 to 10:45 a.m. prior to services, both at the Tetonia LDS Church. Interment will be at the Cache-Clawson Cemetery. Condolences may be sent to the family at www.valleymortuarydriggs.com.

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