Ray Douglas Hanson, 73, of Mt. Vernon, SD, died Monday, March 29, 2021, surrounded by family after a long battle with cancer at Prairie View Healthcare Center in Woonsocket, SD. Funeral services will be 10:00 AM Friday, April 2, at Resurrection Lutheran Church in Mitchell. Burial will be at Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery in rural Mt. Vernon. A festival of life will be from 5-7:00 PM Thursday at Resurrection Lutheran Church. Arrangements by Bittner Funeral Chapel.
A recording of the funeral service may be viewed at: https://youtu.be/biuKU0ZYAdo
Ray Douglas Hanson was born September 5, 1947 in Herrick, SD to Carl and Rose (Fiala) Hanson of Mt. Vernon, SD. He attended Avery Country School for two years. He then attended Mt. Vernon High School and graduated in 1965. After high school, he attended Dakota Wesleyan University and South Dakota State University, where as a freshman he won the prestigious award of “Corn King.”
Ray joined the South Dakota National Guard in 1967, where he proudly served his country for the next 36 years. With his skilled maintenance position, he became a leading expert in many areas of his field, teaching others his knowledge nationwide. He retired from the South Dakota National Guard in 2003.
Ray met Rhoni (Meng) Adam and was married January 8, 2003. After retirement from the South Dakota National Guard, Ray and Rhoni traveled down to Arizona every winter for eight years where they made many memories. He always remembered to bring back his wood carving projects for his loved ones.
Ray was fearless, especially when helping those he loved through difficult times. It was not unusual for him to call or visit if you were struggling. His kind heart was shown by being there for everyone. He was a man of faith who attended Sunday services regularly, unless a coyote was spotted.
Ray had an enormous impact on the community. He was 33 years sober at the time of his passing, which is a prime example of his perseverance and character. Ray dedicated many hours to local Alcoholics Anonymous groups where he was an active board member. He strived to be a light for those who needed it.
Ray’s passions can be remembered and highlighted in three simple words: hunting, the color red, and farming. Many fond memories from loved ones include riding in Ray’s truck, chasing after coyotes, and working the land with him. Ray loved the color red, and it showed in his choice of pickups, tractors, and decorations. Ray’s red pickup truck will no doubt be missed running the gravel roads of the Mount Vernon area.
Ray’s passion for farming began at a young age, caring for livestock and land. He was an active member in 4-H— showing many years at the South Dakota State Fair. At age 14, Ray started raising Chester White hogs and Horned Hereford Cattle alongside his dad.
Most of all Ray loved his family. He loved spending countless hours giving his kids and grandkids a “hard-time” which gave him great joy. His patriotism and love for family and country could be seen annually during his 4th of July celebrations.
Ray is survived by his wife: Rhoni; six children: Jason (Rita) Hanson of Alexandria, Melinda Hanson of Lombard, IL, Eric Hanson of Sioux Falls, Adam (Susie) Hanson of Renner, Jordan Adam (Dan Diede) of Woonsocket, Jessica (Nick) Lachnit of Mitchell; eleven and three-quarters grandchildren: Emily (fiancé Luke Wodahl), Abby, Miranda, Kaden, Victor, Lincoln, Gauge, Lucas, Mavis, Levi, Letty, Lachnit Baby April 2021; siblings: Nancy Hanson Brady of Mt. Vernon, Linda Hanson of Fulton, Debra (Mike) Sudbeck of Mt. Vernon, Todd Hanson of Mt. Vernon; father and mother in-law: Lloyd and Shirley Meng of Yankton; brother-laws: Jason (Virginia) Meng of Montana, Jess (Debbie) of Wisconsin; sister in-law: Lauren (Erick) Walker of Yankton.
He was preceded in death by his parents.