If you were to walk from Elder W. Eugene Hansen’s living room into the hallway, you would see an entire wall covered with family photographs. Though Elder Hansen has many interests—his work as a personal injury lawyer, his service in the army reserve, his contributions to higher education as chairman of the state board of regents, his Church callings—he has never lost sight of his first love: his family.
Even when work would normally keep him away, he and his wife have often found ways for the family to be together. He says, for instance, “Many summers, during my two weeks of active duty outside of Utah, my family would meet me there, and we would drive back together.”
The challenges they have faced as a family have also drawn them together. Elder Hansen and his wife, Jeanine Showell, have had six children: Christian, Jeff, Susan (Porter), Matthew, Steven, and Stan. Matthew lost his life in an automobile accident, and three others have nearly died because of injury or illness. Sister Hansen says, “We have to give the Lord full credit for helping us weather all the tough times.”
Eugene Hansen was born 23 August 1928 in Tremonton, Utah, to Warren E. and Ruth Steed Hansen. He grew up on a family farm in East Garland, Utah. “I’m grateful that farm life forced me to rise early and work hard,” he says. “That habit’s come in handy when I’ve had to get up at 2:00 A.M. to work on unfinished business.”
In 1950, Brother Hansen graduated from Utah State University with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics and military training through ROTC. On September 8, in the Idaho Falls Temple, he and Jeanine were married. They had attended the same high school and had both gone to Utah State. Brother Hansen then enrolled in law school at the University of Utah. He had completed one quarter when he and his wife received notice that he would soon be called to active duty in Korea.
He recalls, “I left school because of the impending military assignment and found a short-term job with KSL radio as assistant farm director. However, the military assignment did not come for some time. When we finally got our papers, we had just had our first child. We and our six-week-old baby left for Fort Lee, Virginia, in 1953.” A year later, Brother Hansen sailed to Korea. Sister Hansen and their son, meanwhile, returned to Utah so that she could complete her bachelor’s degree in elementary education at Utah State University.
In May 1955, Brother Hansen completed his tour of duty, and he and his family moved to Bountiful, Utah. Brother Hansen returned to law school, and Sister Hansen taught elementary school. He obtained his law degree in 1958. Most of his professional life, he has been in private practice. A fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, he served as president of the Utah State Bar from 1979 to 1980.
Over the years until his retirement from the military reserve in 1980, Eugene Hansen regularly served as a reserve officer. He was attached to the general’s office at Fort Douglas, Utah, as an attorney. At age forty-four, he was promoted to full colonel.
The Hansens are devoted to gospel service. The Church, they explain, has always been central to their lives. Brother Hansen has served in two bishoprics, in several stake MIA callings, and as president of the Salt Lake Bonneville Stake. Sister Hansen has served in Primary, MIA, Sunday School, and Cub Scouts. Her favorite calling has been Laurel adviser.
Then, during the 1989 April general conference, Elder Hansen was called to the First Quorum of the Seventy. Of that calling, Elder Hansen says, “We had no hesitancy in accepting the call. I can’t think of anything I’d rather do than spend my life in the Lord’s work.”