Remembering alumnus Chris Hanson


Courtesy of Sally Hanson

Friends, family and teachers shared that Chris’ smile was one of their favorite things about him. “He had the best smile in the world,” 2017 senior class principal Beth Middendorf said. “I actually told his mom that the other day, that his smile is what I’m going to miss most about him. He definitely brightened my day with his smile.”

Sabrina Bohn, Deputy Managing EIC

Described by his friends, family and teachers as kindhearted and optimistic, alumnus Chris Hanson passed away Sept. 28 in a car crash. A graduate of the class of 2017, Chris planned to attend technical school to study mechanics.  

“He was always the kind of person who could put a smile on your face,” junior and friend Gaby Van Winkle said. “After hanging out with him, you’d go home, and you’d feel so good about yourself. He was just such a positive person, and he was always so upbeat regardless of what was happening.”

Chris played hockey, liked sports cars and music and was involved with his church, Chesterfield Presbyterian.

“Chris and my husband, his father, Tim went with Chesterfield Presbyterian men to a mission trip this summer in Puerto Rico and served with hurricane relief,” mother Sally Hanson said. “[Chris] was really touched by the people he met there and the work that they accomplished.”

In high school, Chris was involved in a work program that sent him and other students to Dierbergs to work. Along with allowing him to do hands-on work, this program also allowed freedom and flexibility that school did not, which helped Chris thrive during his senior year.

He was always the kind of person who could put a smile on your face.”

— junior Gaby Van Winkle

“I think watching him in the work program was a really positive experience. He really honed his skills, found a purpose and found success, which was really positive for him. He was able to find his niche finally, after four years at West High,” 2017 senior class principal Beth Middendorf said. “He really was one of their hardest workers and got good feedback from the manager at Dierbergs, so he had a bright future in whatever he chose because he had such a strong work ethic. That was the time when I saw him most happy.”

Although Chris was able to prosper his senior year, Middendorf was able to see him overcome challenges throughout, stating that he always kept a positive mindset.

“Chris certainly had a lot of opportunities where I think many of us would have probably shut down or given up. But he never gave up. He turned things around in so many ways with his academics and his motivation. We worked so hard with him, and we got to see the positive outcome,” Middendorf said. “No matter what kind of difficult conversations we had to have, I think at the end of the day he and I had a relationship where he knew that I was doing it because I cared about him. He would still smile at me the next day and say ‘Hey, how ya doin’?’ That tells me a lot about someone’s character, and he had such great character.”

Other members of staff, including Chris’ guidance counselor Chris Lorenz, also noticed and were affected by Chris’ positive mindset.

“Whenever I was around Chris, he always seemed to be optimistic and a glass half full kid about life and where he was going. Chris’ demeanor was absolutely one of my favorite things about him,” Lorenz said. “He always expressed kindness around others, and he just maintained that all the time. He never seemed to be in a bad mood or in a bad place.”

Chris was surrounded by a strong group of friends. Junior Hillary Herrera recalls always having a good time with Chris around.

“Some of my favorite memories of him was when our friend group would just drive around in the summer. One of us had a drop-top car, and we would stand up in the car. I just remember driving around with him, blaring music and having a good time,” Herrera said. “He taught me to see the best in everybody, and he was always happy. He would just make sure everybody else around him was always happy and having a good time.”

I love him like a brother, and I know he’s watching down on all his friends and smiling.”

— senior Carson Brown

In his friend group, Chris was especially close to senior Carson Brown.

“I did everything with Chris; he was my right-hand man in every situation I’ve come across,” Brown said. “He impacted my life for the last 11 years and always knew what to say and do in hard times. I woke up every day to him calling or knocking on my door to wake up because we spent everyday together. I love him like a brother, and I know he’s watching down on all his friends and smiling.”

Chris’ family is holding a visitation today from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Schrader Funeral Home, where photos of Chris will be displayed and index cards will be provided to write down memories of him.