Please post the following about my beautiful sister and let the Gloucester community know how much our family appreciates the loving kindness you have shown us during our deep sorrow. The picture is of Elise at the Bananarama Event at City Hall.
Elise Marie Hansen (age 45) died suddenly in a tragic car accident with her beloved brother Marc Hansen on February 14, 2012 in Oregon. Elise was born on January 20th 1967 to the late Woodrow James Hansen and Sandra Nunes of Gloucester. Her life was marked by her generous spirit, creative genius and abiding commitment to justice, freedom and the potential of each person to blossom, thrive and contribute to their community. One principal that framed much of her adult life is found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 29(1) “Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.”
Elise is perhaps most known through her work in establishing KONPAY. She was integral to creating the Reforest Haiti program and had deep love for the youth of JADPE, and great determination to help them become strong and empowered. Prior to KONPAY, she worked at the Department of Public Health and at Partners for Health where she was inspired by the work of Paul Farmer, founder of Partners In Health and subject of the Tracy Kidder book Mountains Beyond Mountains. Locally, she was known to many for her work on Main Street at the Bookstore and at Bananas. While Elise received a B.A. from the Art Institute of Boston, she never commercialized her artistic talents; rather they naturally infused every aspect of her being, manifesting themselves everywhere from her dress to gardening to photography to writing, all done with an artistic flair.
She was a tremendously gifted photographer with an extraordinary eye and her camera was never far from her side, capturing people and landscapes. Her father kept a photo she had taken of her brother Ben and his wife Susan by his bedside, saying it was like having them in the room. While she disciplined herself to become a skilled expository writer in order to promote her work’s mission, her natural writing style had a stream of consciousness quality that would give Poe a run for his money. And a voice mail message from Elise was sure to go on for minutes before she eventually got to the point of her call. It was all part of her charm.
As a child Elise, an adorable dimpled red-head was the adored toddler of the family. Always ready for an adventure she helped her sister win 1st prize in the Deer Isle Maine 4th of July Doll Carriage Parade by serving as a cosseted living doll. To us she was known as Tou Tou and when the family assigned roles based on Winnie the Pooh, Elise was named “Tigger” hands down. Always vibrant, lively, animated, active and moving, she was a natural dancer. When she hugged you it became a dance, a moment like no other. Such was her deep and abiding love, it spilled over into everything.
She made deep friendships with people wherever she went. People were attracted to her beauty and light, her joyous animated personality. Her love of travel and adventure carried through to her whole adult life, including driving a semi-trailer truck to Central America with provisions for the village. Elise spoke several languages including Spanish and Portuguese as well as the international language of music — her preferred method of communication. Music was always a huge part of her life. As her friends from the high school GHS class of 1985 remember, she was listening to Prince before anyone knew who he was. And so it was fitting that when she met the love of her life, Scott Southard, founder and owner of International Music Network International, he shared her passion and love for music. During their 5 years together, Elise enjoyed traveling with Scott and their home became Family Central as they hosted many memorable family and holiday dinners. She took pride and pleasure in her step-children and was an active participant in their development.
We will honor the great gift of her life by carrying forward each day her great curiosity, her active and loving heart that always sought to understand and to help others become all that they can be. We will take each moment and bring to it the tremendous joy Elise found in all that she encountered. As her friend Katherine Cordova said, “She saw and spoke and lived with her heart, with all her dear precious heart.”
Elise Hansen leaves her fiancé, Scott Southard of Gloucester, and his children, Nicole and Conor Southard, her mother, Sandra Nunes of Gloucester, her brother, Erik Hansen of California, sister Enid Hansen of California, brother Benjamin Hansen and his wife Susan of Texas, brother Christian Hart of Washington, sister Erika Hansen and husband David McCarley of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, formerly of Gloucester, and brother Ricardo Nunes and wife Darlene of Lowell, niece Karen Hart, niece Karissa Elise Hansen (daughter of Marc Hansen) niece Miranda Hansen, nephew Safaa Hansen, niece Gemma McCarley, niece Niku Hansen, niece Georgeanna McCarley, nephew Kent Hansen, niece Lily Nunes, great-nephews Corbin Carpenter, Ariyah Hansen and great-nieces Miela and Elise Carpenter (Marc’s grandchildren, the youngest of whom is carrying on Elise’s name), Aunt Bonnie Oakley, cousins Kevin, Adair, Diane and Shawn and friends from all around the globe, including Richard Leonard of Gloucester, Cathy and Jacques Reynaud of France and childhood friends, Jill and Carrie Stevens. Jill & Carrie were part of Elise’s childhood in Framingham as well as her 5 years growing up in Portugal and they will always be like sisters to Elise and Erika.
All are invited to a memorial service that will be held at the Shalin Liu Performance Center, 37 Main Street, Rockport, MA on Sunday Feb. 19th at 11:00 am. A Memorial Fund has been established.