Horace R. Hansen was born on February 20, 1910, and grew up in the Midway area of St. Paul, Minnesota. He attended Central High School and graduated from the University of Minnesota, then the St. Paul College of Law in 1933. While in law school, he became a friend of former Chief Justice of the United States, Warren Burger, who was also attending the law school. They remained friends and corresponded after Chief Justice Burger moved to Washington D.C. Horace was proud of his friendship with the Chief Justice and treasured the letters he received from the Chief.
Following graduation from law school, Horace worked for the Industrial Commission as a Workers' Compensation attorney. While at the Commission, he met Larry Hazen, also a Compensation attorney who later joined with Horace to found the firm of Hansen and Hazen in 1946. During the 1930s, Horace was very active in the Democratic Farmer-Labor Party and worked for various social causes in St. Paul with Warren Burger. Horace was also very active in the Cooperative Movement.
Horace joined the Ramsey County Attorney's staff as a prosecuting attorney in the early 1940s. World War II interrupted his practice, where he served as a lieutenant in an U.S. Army replacement troop. At the end of the war, he became a Captain in the Judge Advocate General's Corp. Horace had many interesting experiences during his service in World War II and wrote long letters during the war to his friends in St. Paul. They were widely circulated and published in the St. Paul Dispatch. These letters are now part of the permanent records of the Ramsey County Historical Society. He also took many pictures while traveling through Europe. At the end of the war, Horace became part of the prosecution team that prosecuted the Germans for war crimes. Horace worked on part of the Nuremberg trials but primarily worked as a prosecutor at Dachau. In connection with his work as a prosecutor, Horace met many interesting German people including several of Adolf Hitler's personal recorders. He collected many photographs of the concentration camps and prepared a manuscript for publication regarding his experiences during the war and as a war crimes prosecutor.
After completing his prosecution duties, Horace returned to St. Paul and joined with Larry Hazen and three others to form a new firm known as Hansen, Robins, Davis, Lyons & Hazen. Later that year, Horace and Larry formed their own partnership. From 1948 to 1963, there were various attorneys that were associated with Larry and Horace in the practice, which by then was known as Hansen, Hazen & Lynch. Some of these lawyers were Joseph Dillon, a former mayor of St. Paul, Ramsey County District Judge James Lynch, Phillip Klein, and Warren Newcombe, a former attorney for Great Northern Railroad.
Horace was a general practitioner but was widely recognized as an expert in insurance, banking and health law. He served on the board of Directors of the American National Bank & Trust Company for 25 years and chaired the committee of the Minnesota State Bar Association which recodified the Minnesota insurance laws in the 1970s. Horace served as the Degree of Honor Protective Association general counsel for over twenty years, served as a general counsel for the Minnesota League of Credit Unions, and also served as general counsel for the Independent Bankers Association of America.
His work in banking law sent him to Washington, D.C., on numerous occasions to testify on pending legislation before Congress. In addition, because of the national scope of Horace's work representing small, independent banks against large banks and bank holding companies, Horace participated in many banking "test" cases around the United States in various state and federal courts.
As an outgrowth from his early days in the Cooperative Movement, Horace obtained authorization from then-Minnesota Attorney General Miles Lord to charter the first health maintenance organization in Minnesota. Horace was one of the founders of the Group Health Association of America and served as its counsel for many years also. During the tenure of Minnesota Governor Orville Freeman, Horace was invited by the Governor to consider an appointment to the Minnesota Supreme Court, but he declined.
Apart from his law practice, Horace was active in social organization, serving as one of the founders of the North Oaks Golf Club. He was also one of the founders of the Norske Torske Klubben, a club made up of people with Norwegian heritage.
Horace was a lawyer from the "old school" and a true gentleman. He was especially unique in his ability to look at a legal issue as if it had never been presented previously. This permitted him to let his mind roam and consider the problem from all facets. Even after his retirement, Horace retained his keen interest in the law. He often consulted with members of his firm now known as Hansen, Dordell, Bradt, Odlaug & Bradt.
Horace married Ruth Laugen (1925-1998) in the summer of 1951. They had three children: John C. Hansen, Jean H. Doth, and Gail N. Tromburg. Horace and Ruth built a house in Mahtomedi, Minnesota, where they spent their first eight years. In 1959, they moved to North Oaks, Minnesota, where Horace and Ruth spent the rest of their lives. Horace died at this home on October 4, 1995, while writing a fiction book.
Respectfully submitted by,
Gene Bradt, and Wayne Dordell