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Lucille Hansen—A life of service. And fun

April 4th, 2010 Posted in Arts and Life

By Caresa Alexander

LOGAN—Her cheeks were slightly flushed and she was a little out of breath as she walked into the Chase Fine Arts Center at Utah State University, but she smiled as she recalled her day. An early walk at the mall, classes at USU and a visit to the Logan LDS temple, but the day was not over yet. Now was time for an interview and then she would attend an organ recital. This lady sure knows how to make the most of her day.

Lucille Hansen of Logan, the event coordinator and founder of the Noon Music Series at the Logan Tabernacle, has spent her life serving others. But she is modest about her achievements and, as she talked, often turned the conversation to praise others.

Hansen credits her work ethic to her family—her father, a GE engineer, executive and inventor, and her mother, a seminary teacher. Both parents were church leaders.

Hansen graduated from Brigham Young University in 1957 as an organist with a minor in music. After graduation, she married and moved to Idaho Falls, where she had four kids and taught elementary school. Although she taught all subjects, Hansen also served as a music supervisor in most of the schools where she taught.

Thirty-one years ago, Hansen moved to Logan and earned a master’s degree in elementary education from USU in 1981. She also taught at the Lab School on campus for three years. In total, she has taught for 31 years.

“I was a vocal music teacher until I lost my voice,” she says. “No more voice. But I said, well, I still know how to lead and I can teach it. I can do it.” She took that can-do attitude with her when she taught in overseas.

Hansen was accepted to BYU’s China Teachers Program and in 1997 and in 1998 taught English at the University of Science and Technology of China. She compares it to MIT.

“They bring in students from every one of the provinces,” she said. “They were brilliant students, very interesting, and while I was there I had a choir.

“I said, those students need to work their right brains, those left-brain scientists,” she said. “They can learn English by singing.”

So Hansen formed a choir. “I was very careful to teach them upbeat songs without an American patriotic message—upbeat songs that had to do with friendship and things like that.”

When Hansen returned from China she went to work at the Logan Temple, serving there for more than seven years. During the summers, she was a volunteer guide at the Logan Tabernacle, and soon saw that she wanted to do more there. Hansen’s love of music propelled her idea to put on performances at the tabernacle.

“Nothing was going on,” she recalls. “There is this gorgeous, gorgeous building and it was dead. And I got thinking, aren’t there programs every day in Salt Lake [Tabernacle]? We can do it here.”

So she broached the idea with the Logan Tabernacle officials. “The fellow over the guides called and said, ‘OK, Lucille. We thought about it and we can have the programs.’ I had three weeks.”

Even with that short time to plan, Hansen put the program together, calling friends and family and others willing to perform.

She laughs as she recalls the biggest performance that first year, which drew a crowd of about 175 people.

The Noon Music Series at the Tabernacle has been in operation for about 10 years. During the early years, Hansen said, sometimes only 20 people would attend the performances. But the program survived, and now the draws anywhere from 200 to 1,000 people.

Gary Griffin, the managing director of the Utah Festival Opera Company, has known Hansen for 10 years. What he first noticed was Hansen’s “bubbly personality,” he said, but as he started to work with her on the Concert and Lectures Series, Griffin was impressed with her organizing skills.

“She puts things together and she gets people to do things that I couldn’t get them to do,” Griffin said. “She doesn’t know how to take ‘no’ for an answer. She gets people to come and do stuff for her that they wouldn’t do for anybody else, and usually for free.”

Griffin recently went on a recruiting trip to Arizona to find more summer citizens to visit Cache Valley. He said they all mentioned Hansen.

“They [summer citizens] bring a lot of money to our community. There has to be stuff to draw them here and that is one of the things they like is Noon Time at the Tabernacle,” Griffin said.

Through her volunteer service, Hansen helps provide both summer citizens and local residents with a vibrant arts scene. What began as a desire to introduce more music to the valley has turned into a full-time job.

The Noon Music Series at the Tabernacle starts in early June, Monday through Saturday, and runs for 10 weeks. Hansen is busy preparing for the 2010 season, arranging the concerts, contacting people to introduce the musicians, advertising and sending out thank you letters.

Hansen said her favorite thing about the Tabernacle concert series is “giving people an opportunity to perform in that magnificent building while giving others an opportunity to hear beautiful music at a price they can afford—free.”

She feels strongly about the need to support the local arts, and tries to attend all community programs, which often provide new talent for the Tabernacle.

“She is so dependable,” said Julie Hollist, director of the Cache Valley Visitors Bureau. “If you ask her to do something or she’s going to be involved in something and she says she is going to take care of it, it is done. You don’t have to think twice about it. You don’t ever have to worry.”

Hollist explained that Hansen is the “go-to woman” for anything associated with the Tabernacle. “She is the face of that organization. It’s a great tribute to her for all her efforts,” Hollist said. “I’m most inspired by her dedication to good causes and her willingness to share herself with the community for the betterment of everyone and that is something that makes me want to be a better person and makes me want to be more generous with my own talents and my own ability to serve and to try to improve the community and environment around me. One thing I also love about Lucille is that she loves to learn new things and she tries new adventures.”

One of these adventures happened in 2007 when Hansen and a group of friends traveled to Morocco. Ann Egeland, a clerk at the Cache Valley Visitors Bureau, was also among that party, which rode camels, slept in tents in the Sahara desert and tried new food. For dinner one night, they decided to try the specialty of the house.

“We each had this big wedge of pie and the owner of the hotel, the little inn we were in, came around and he said ‘How do you like our pie?’” Egeland said. “I wasn’t crazy about it, but Lucille said, ‘Oh, I love it!’ And he said, ‘Would you like some more pigeon?’ We had been eating pigeon pie and I said, ‘Oh, I was wondering why there was all these little bones in it.’

“You should have seen the look on Lucille’s face. It was like, ‘I just ate a pigeon?’” Egeland said. “Before that she was raving about how wonderful it was and how much she loved it. She got kind of green and we decided that maybe she didn’t want any more pigeon. She had reached her pigeon limit.”

Hansen has traveled extensively, including trips to Israel, Egypt and Turkey, but she always returns like a homing pigeon to Cache Valley, even through the harsh winters.

Last year Hansen was presented with a Women Over 65 Lifetime Achievement Award by the USU Women’s Resource Center—a well deserved recognition for a lady who has given much to the community.

“Her speech was so inspiring,” Egeland recalls. “Her life hasn’t been perfect.” Hansen was a working mom as she raised her children and completed her master’s degree.

“I don’t think she would ever say she can’t do it until she has tried,” Egeland said. “How many people at her age would say that? She has never grown old in spirit or emotion. She is always going to be learning. She is an incredible learning machine.”

And she’s still not finished: Hansen has taken a LDS Institute of Religion class every year since she returned from China, recently added university classes. She says she still has much to learn.

“I do love to go to USU. I probably would take more classes than I do,” she said. “I’d probably do more volunteering. Maybe I’d volunteer in the local schools.”

For Lucille Hansen, age is just a number, and volunteering is a way of life. Five local high schools will perform at the Tabernacle this summer, and Lucille will be there for all the practices.

“It’s OK. I’m retired. I’ve got time,” she said.


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