Helen (Bobbi) Burns Hanson died peacefully at home on January 1, 2021 surrounded by family and faithful care givers at the age of 93. Born in Oil City, PA, she raised her two daughters in Towaco, NJ and spent her retirement years between Cape May/Rio Grande, NJ and Naples, FL.
She earned a degree in English at Allegheny College where she enjoyed fellowship with her Alpha Chi Omega Sorority, and where she met her husband, George Allchin Hanson, a business major. They were married the September following college graduation and enjoyed 47 years of love and adventure until George was called home by God. She later continued her education by earning a Master of Science degree at William Paterson University in Speech Pathology and obtained her registered certification as a Respiratory Therapist through Atlantic Community College.
Bobbi enjoyed a meaningful career as an educator in New Jersey. It began as a special education teacher in the Pequannock Township school district, and then progressed to Director of a Head Start preschool program at William Paterson University. She soon found herself writing the curriculum as Head Director for the Dale Avenue Charter School in downtown Paterson. Testing proved this program could take socially and economically disadvantaged preschool children who were underperforming academically and raise their test scores to at or above the national average by Grade 3. So successful was this program, she spent several years speaking at Education Conventions and disseminating her curriculum to school communities throughout the United States in need of a proven approach for education excellence. Her work caught national attention and earned her a spot in Who’s Who in Education. Her final working years were spent quietly teaching a kindergarten class in Wildwood, NJ. As a semi-retirement business, Bobbi and George purchased a gift shop on Washington Street Mall in Cape May, NJ. The store became known for Bobbi’s signature silk floral designs and brides came to Fancy That Gift Shop for their floral needs.
With a rich family history dating back to the founding fathers, Bobbi was an active member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). She served as Regent of the Marco Island Chapter for many years, using her teaching talents to host re-enactment productions for local youth. An avid Bridge player, Bobbi founded a Port of the Island Bridge Club and took joy in teaching new comers the love of this card game. She kept her sorority ties by joining the local Florida Panhellenic Council.
Bobbi often said her proudest accomplishment was raising her two daughters, Deborah (Deb) and Elisabeth (Betsy), to see them grow up to be successful professionals with an appreciation for volunteering their time and talents when need arises. Deb earned her RN diploma from Lankenau Nursing School and enjoyed a nursing career in Cape May County, NJ. She was predominantly responsible for her mother’s care at home in her final years. Betsy, with a Textile Marketing degree from University of Maryland, spent 40 years working as a manager at United Yarn Products in Wayne, NJ. Along with the love of her daughters, the family feels so fortunate that Bobbi found a devoted companion, Norman Borgo, to share the last 2 decades of her life. His love, support, and devotion have been unmeasurable to the family.
Bobbi was bright, creative, strong willed, and generous. She gave 100% to her girls in their formative years; all while juggling advanced college certifications and building her professional career. She taught Sunday school, played the piano, played in the Church Bell Choir, and held a leadership role in her daughter’s Girl Scout troop. She loved to host themed parties, donned a special outfit and jewelry for all occasions, and loved impulsive shopping. She had a green thumb and her garden rooms and outdoor flower beds were a testament to her talents. Being by a pool, on the beach, or on the water rejuvenated her soul and brought her joy.
Helen Hanson is pre-deceased by her husband, George Allchin Hanson, her sister Elizabeth Burns Townsend, and her sister-in-law & brother in-law Belle and Claude DuPont. She is survived by her daughters Deborah Hanson-Philip (husband Donald Philip) from Naples, FL; Elisabeth Bishop Engelhardt (husband Ronald Engelhardt) from West Milford, NJ. She has one granddaughter, Amanda Engelhardt Renner and step grandchildren Josh Philip, Danielle Ingley, Amanda Mones, Jason Engelhardt and Dayna Tait. She is also survived by her loving brother-in-law Edward (Ted) Townsend and her nephews Michael Townsend (wife Kate), and Mark Townsend (wife Annette).
The family offers a heartfelt thank you to Bobbi’s caregivers, whose presence began 4 years ago, permitting the family to honor her wishes to remain at home until her passing. Their patience, professionalism, reliability, and gentle care provided much comfort to us all.
A Memorial Service will be planned in the Spring of 2021. Donations in her honor can be made to the Shy Wolf Sanctuary in Naples, FL (WEBSITE: shywolfsanctuary.org) OR the Everglades Community Church, Everglades, FL (WEBSITE: ever-community-church.com).
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