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Life Story / Obituary
Margarette Anderson Lawson Hann, who died peacefully in her sleep, was loved deeply, is missed greatly, and will be cherished forever. As daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother (“GiGi” to her great grandchildren), she was unfailingly poised, accomplished, and elegant, a seeker of adventure and the consummate hostess.
Margarette’s story began on the south side of Minneapolis, just one block from the Mississippi River, the daughter of Victor and Alice Larson Anderson. They did not own a car until 1950, so her father commuted to work by streetcar. Margarette fondly recalled running to him at the end of every day and being met with a warm hug and kiss.
Her mother persevered through the Depression, managing not only to care for her family but also for the others around her. Whenever they had anything extra she’d insist it be given to someone in need. Margarette took pride in helping out during those lean years. With the money she saved from working, she bought her brother his first pair of long pants and a bike, despite never owning one herself.
Margarette graduated from South High, and entered Macalester College. However, she had met Kenneth W Lawson when he was their paper delivery boy. Ken was persistent. Following one year of college he proposed having saved up to buy her ring with cash, an early sign of the frugality that served him well throughout his life. They started their family in Golden Valley with a house Ken designed, their fathers helped build, and Margarette decorated.
As a young man, Kenneth worked for Russell-Miller Milling Company, eventually becoming a Vice President of Pillsbury as head of the Feed Ingredient division. The family moved to Christmas Lake, where Margarette (lovingly referred to as “Mugsy” by Ken) did volunteer work (PTA, American Field Service, scouting, Boys Club, YWCA) and took care of the household. Always stylish and poised (with a signature pin on her right shoulder and a spritz of Shalimar), Margarette made sure their home was always entertainment-ready for those last minute business dinners and the many gatherings with friends and relatives.
Margarette and Ken were long time members of Westminster Presbyterian Church, attended concerts at Orchestra Hall, plays at the University of Minnesota and the Guthrie Theater. Margarette also spent countless hours volunteering: at Westminster Presbyterian Church, several years for the Symphony Ball, at Abbott Northwestern Hospital for over fifty years where she also served on the Board of Trustees. She held many different leadership positions for The Woman’s Club of Minneapolis, the Women’s Board of the Boys Club of Minneapolis, the Women’s Christian Association Foundation (Minnesota’s oldest ongoing benevolent organization), and P.E.O. She was organized, responsible and dedicated. As the head of the WCA Foundation said of Margarette recently, “She didn’t just take the popular path, she took the right path.”
Margarette loved adventure. She and Ken traveled the country and the world. Early in their marriage they took several trips to Mexico, California and Las Vegas (for the entertainment). With their children, they drove west to the national parks and east to New York City and Washington, D.C. They traveled south to New Orleans to hear jazz and traveled to Alaska to fish for salmon and see grizzly bears. After the children were grown and married, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Great Plains Wheat Association asked Ken to represent American wheat interests in Europe and northern Africa. They jumped at the opportunity for new adventures, sold their beloved Christmas Lake home and moved to Rotterdam, The Netherlands. During their three years there, they toured both Eastern and Western Europe and Northern Africa. The travel bug later led them to venture to China, India, the Soviet Union, Colombia, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore. Even when Kenneth was so ill he had to enter a nursing home, Margarette continued to travel. She explored the Amazon rainforest, Panama, Turkey, and Costa Rica.
After their stint in Europe, they settled down in Mound, Minnesota, in a house overlooking Lake Minnetonka. They made it an inviting home where family and friends loved to gather. Unfortunately, their retirement years together came to a premature end. Kenneth passed away in 1993 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s Disease.
Though separated prematurely from Ken, Margarette continued to volunteer, patronize the arts, entertain in her home and attend weekly bridge games with her friends. She also doted on her granddaughters, whom she taught to bake bread and properly set a table, as well as seek interesting new experiences and to stand up for themselves. Unexpectedly, in 1994, Margarette was swept off her feet by Charles Hann. After a lovely courtship, they married and lived in Edina, Minnesota. They had twenty-two wonderful years together until 2017, when, because of health reasons, Margarette moved to Michigan to live with her daughter and son-in-law.
Spirited and fearless, Margarette never stopped living life to its fullest. As a child she joined the boys on the playground playing baseball (which, one fateful day, led to a broken school window). In her 60s, when her elder grandchild wanted to try the wooden roller coaster at Valley Fair, she did not hesitate to volunteer to go with her. Her most daring feat, however, was skydiving on her 98th birthday.
Margarette was preceded in death by her first husband, Kenneth W. Lawson, and her sister Lucille Anderson Prenevost. She is survived by her brother Victor Anderson of Richmond VA; her husband, Charles Hann of Jordan MN; daughter, Marilynn (John) Tammi of Holland MI; son, Kent (Carol Tambor) Lawson of New York City and Sherman CT ; granddaughters, Jennifer (Randy Stearns) Tammi of Brooklyn NY and Amanda (Mark) VandeVusse of Holland MI; great grandchildren, Hadley VandeVusse, Aidan VandeVusse, and Soren Stearns; stepchildren, Martha (Terry) Engelby of Jordan MN, David (Anne) Hann of Eden Prairie MN, Barbara Hann Bannon of Delafield WI, Mary (Michael) Raymer of McAlester OK; cousins, nieces, nephews, and step grandchildren.
There will be no formal service. A family remembrance will take place in July 2019. If you wish to honor Margarette, please donate to the Women’s Christian Association Foundation or to Westminster Presbyterian Church.