Deon Hatch Hanson


Deon Hatch Hanson was born in Vernal, Utah on May 18, 1919 to Abe and Marjorie Hatch. Our beloved mother died peacefully on August 12, 2013.

Deon was raised in Vernal along with her three loving brothers Denzil, Glade and Lou. Growing up with three brothers gave her a great opportunity to unleash her competitive spirit and the freedom her parents provided allowed her to enthusiastically chase her dreams.

In 1937 she graduated from Uintah High School as the class valedictorian. She was also Vernal’s rodeo queen, a high school cheerleader, class officer and active in the drama club. After high school she attended Utah State and was a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority. In 1941 she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in education specializing in English and speech. Deon married Marion Ralph “Swede” Hanson in January 1942.

Even though her degree was in English, Deon’s dream was to be a pilot. During college she passed the entrance exam for flight school but they insisted she obtain her parents’ approval. Her mother refused. (One adventure her mother would not sign off on.) Deon’s response was to try to join the military and become a pilot but, in 1942 that did not work out. Instead, she went with Swede to Texas where he served in the air force as a flight instructor. She could not even convince him to teach her to fly! Others might have given up, but her enthusiasm did not waiver. While in Texas she saw an ad in a paper that read, “Solo flight guaranteed for $75.00.” She signed up. As she knew she would, she loved flying. She loved being up so high and the beauty and peacefulness but what she didn’t know is she didn’t love landing the plane! The instructor found himself on each attempt having to take over the controls to get them back on the ground. This happened over and over until he finally told her he knew she could do it and he sent her up alone. She did land that plane and she did obtain her pilot’s license but never regretted being an English teacher.

With her new appreciation for teaching, Deon accepted a job in Afton, Wyoming teaching high school English. (Her salary was $1,111.00 a year and she could not have been more pleased.) She then taught in Vernal before moving to Malad with Swede to raise their children, Ralph, Geraldine, Taylor, Trudy and Christopher. As a mother she was a stickler for routine, good manners, good grammar, doing your best and being kind.

Twenty-five years later she returned to teaching at Malad High School where she taught sophomore English and speech for the next seventeen years and shared with hundreds of students her enthusiasm for poetry, Greek mythology, A Tale of Two Cities, and her real passion, diagramming sentences.

Deon retired in 1987 and a year later joined the Peace Corps and travelled to Sri Lanka. Because of its location at the tip of India, Sri Lanka has been called the “tear drop of India”. Somewhat to her surprise she found herself trying to teach English in the middle of a civil war. Because of the conflict and danger she was constantly being re-located and schools were being closed days after she would arrive. She loved her new “job”, the people and the country but it was decided the danger was too great for these Peace Corps volunteers and ultimately a military transport was used to get them safely out of the country.

Deon was a long-time member of the Presbyterian Church and served as a Sunday school teacher and Sunday school superintendent. She was also a member and served as a district chaplain for the American Legion Auxiliary. When she wasn’t volunteering, teaching or raising children Deon could be found with her friends playing bridge. Putting her competitive spirit to good use she competed in numerous bridge tournaments and became a life master in duplicate bridge.

Deon is survived by Ralph (Kola), Trudy (Jack) and Christopher (Rene); her loving grandchildren Tyler Hanson (Michelle), Tess Hanson DeLisa (Ben), Whitney Deon Fouser, Christopher Fouser and Taylor Fouser; and her beloved great grandchildren Avery Hanson, Jonah DeLisa and Lucy DeLisa. Her grandchildren adored her because she was simply a wonderful grandma. She had “tea parties”, cheered them on during sporting events, cooked for them, worried about them, sat with them, thoroughly enjoyed each of their accomplishments and loved everything about them.

The family would like to thank all of her wonderful friends and neighbors for their help and love and a special thanks to mom’s long time neighbor, Sharon Thorpe, for all the years of delicious dinners she brought over and all her loving acts of kindness. We would also like to express our immense gratitude for the wonderful care provided by the staff at the Long Term Care Center.

Deon’s requests are that her body be donated to the University of Utah Medical Center and that there be no funeral service. A family celebration will be held so that we can remind each other how fortunate we are to have had her in our lives.

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