by Dr. Bill Nadelberg
The Rotary Club of West Orange suffered a great loss this past week as we find ourselves mourning the passing of our beloved member, Leander "Emil" Hansen. Emil lived a wonderful 88 years and devoted 22 of those last years to Rotary.
Emil, with always a smile on his face and never a bad word to say about anyone, was a devoted Rotarian who didn't know how to say "no".
He was, literally, a driving force in the Gift of Life Program, frequently transporting sick children and their parents, coming from other lands overseas, from local airports to their surgeries in New York. He would visit them following their procedures and then drive them back to New Jersey to their host clubs and then on the airports again to return home. He recounted on many occasions the thrill he got from witnessing first hand the transformation from a sick (near death on certain occasions) child to a running, bouncing, healthy, normal child following the heart surgery. He comforted their parents during the procedures, reassuring them that their child was in safe hands and promising them that everything would work out for the best.
Emil was also instrumental in our Club's upkeep of the Gibby Craft Shop at Camp Merry Heart, for disabled children. He and Joe Tylus (another deceased former Club member) spent so much time repairing, painting, and refurbishing the craft shop that it was rededicated as
"Joe and Emil's Place". Emil was so proud of that and would often smile when the craft shop was referred to as such.
Emil, a master carpenter in his time, was the single most important individual in seeing that our Rotary trailer (used for the July 4th activities) is what it is today. When my father's business donated the trailer to our Club it was a dilapidated mess. Emil took a look at it and said to me, "No problem. I can fix it up and make it work perfectly for our needs." I was a little skeptical, but Emil, with some help from former member, and carpenter/builder Mike D'Aries, donated time and sweat equity over a period of many weeks to make the project a reality. Emil took a lot of pride in his work and made sure that no shortcuts were taken and the job was done right.
Emil also always took part in any club event that needed his presence. He was also involved in the (now defunct) West Orange Rotary Golf Tour. There were a couple of foursomes that had a friendly competition at different member's clubs. Emil loved it....though he may be remembered as "the world's slowest player'.
Emil was always there when you needed him and was a great humanitarian in his 88 year run. We'll miss you dearly, Emil. You were truly the epitome of the Four Way Test.
During WWII, Emil served in the Navy in the Pacific. He is one of the rapidly disappearing members of our "Greatest Generation" and we thank him for his service.
Dr. Dorie Cappiello
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to the:
Camp Merry Heart-Easter Seals
Attn: Giving Coordinator
233 South Wacker Dr, Suite 2400
Chicago, Illiois 60606