Barbara Ann Hansen (née Park), 95, passed away in her home in Sarasota, Florida, on Saturday, September 2, 2023, after a brief illness. She was surrounded by those who loved and cared for her.
Barbara was born on February 26, 1928, in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Thomas E. Park Sr. and Mildred Andrea Park (née Danielson). As a sophomore in high school, she transferred to the University of Chicago Laboratory School, graduating in 1945. She attended Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, graduating in 1949 with a degree in Economics.
In September 1949, Barbara married Julian Rial Hansen; they met during their senior year at the Lab School. For the next 74 years, they created a lifelong partnership that encompassed raising a family, civic endeavors, sports, and world travel.
After their marriage, Barbara and Julian moved to Chicago where Julian attended the University of Chicago Law School. Daughter Jane arrived in 1951. After graduation, the family moved to Milwaukee for Julian’s first job but their stay was cut short when Julian, a Navy pilot, was recalled to serve in the Korean War. After his tour of duty, they returned to Chicago where Julian helmed the family law practice. Daughter Dicie arrived in 1956.
In 1964, Barbara and her family made the move to a gorgeous but rundown 39-acre property in Barrington Hills, IL. For the next 30 years, preserving the native oaks, hickories and wildflowers while incorporating a series of perennial gardens would be a labor of love for Barbara.
Barbara had long been interested in good governance and she was elected to the village’s Board of Trustees in 1977. She concluded 12 years of service with an eight-year term as their first female Village President. Her tenure was marked by significant advances in land use planning and development. Her other civic endeavors included Chair of the Barrington Area Council of Governments from 1976-1978 and work for the League of Women Voters.
Barbara was passionate about flower arranging. After an early misstep using tulips in her first Garden Club of America (“GCA”) flower show, she vowed never to receive an Honorable Mention award ever again. So, she pursued her art with determination, many classes, and hours of practice. In the process she became a GCA Flower Arranging judge in 1983 and earned all of the GCA’s highest awards including two Fenwick medals, the Cramer Award and the Dorothea Wallace award. In her ongoing pursuit of excellence, Barbara became a GCA Photography judge in 2006. She was a member of the Garden Club of Barrington and Founders Garden Club of Sarasota. At the national level, Barbara served as the GCA Treasurer and was a member of the GCA Executive Board.
Her interest in all things horticultural led Barbara to join the Board of Marie Selby Gardens from 2001 until 2007. In 2002, she assumed the Board Chairmanship until 2004. She steered the gardens during a difficult time and the search for a new CEO.
Sports played an important part in Barbara’s life. Tennis, golf, and snow skiing were lifelong pursuits. With diligence and perseverance, she made the A Team for ladies’ golf at Barrington Hills Country Club. For many years, Barbara and Julian held the “Summer Olympics” in August at their Barrington Hills home, inviting their friends to compete in sailing, canoeing, badminton, and horseshoes with ping pong after dinner to settle any ties.
Barbara and Julian loved to travel and visited almost 50 countries and all fifty states over the years. While many of the trips were with family, many others were in the company of intrepid friends. Trips to China, South Africa and Botswana, Tanzania, the Galapagos and Ecuador, Costa Rica, Belize, Argentina, New Zealand and almost every country in Europe were thoroughly planned and joyfully experienced.
In 1979, Barbara and Julian purchased a condo in Longboat Key, FL where they spent many relaxing winters and escaped Chicago’s blizzards. For over 20 years, Barbara was Landscape Chair at Sands Point Condominium where she was responsible for designing and maintaining the 7.8-acre property. In 2017, Barbara and Julian moved to Sarasota full-time. They treasured the beauty and birdlife in Sarasota.
Barbara was often called “a force of nature.” She was a friend to many, a mentor to most and a woman on a mission who made a difference in so many lives. She will be missed by all her family and friends.
Barbara is survived by her husband Julian, her daughters Dicie and Jane Hansen, Jane’s husband Robert G. Stanton, and her two grandsons, Christopher Hansen Miller and Andrew Hansen Miller.
A celebration of life is tentatively planned for November in Sarasota and a small gathering in Barrington later this year. In lieu of flowers, a donation to Marie Selby Botanical Gardens may be made at https://selby.org/support/