HANSEN, James Anthony “Jim” - Passed away on Sunday, August 6th, 2017 at St. Peter’s Residence after battling Lewy Body dementia for many years.
Jim was born on April 16th, 1932 in Montreal, the youngest of Otnar and Cecilia Hansen’s eleven children.
Jim is survived by Patricia, his loving wife of 58 years and his sons David, Paul and Anthony as well as his beloved daughters-in-law, Nicolle and Aldina.
He is especially loved and remembered by his five grandchildren: Natalie, Kaitlyn, Alison, Joseph and Dina. He is also survived by his sister Rita and sister-in-law Judy and is predeceased by sisters Kay and Martha and brothers: Francis, Jerry, Tommy, Peter, Leo, Frank and Leonard.
He spoke often and fondly of his parents, siblings and his birthplace of Montreal and indeed throughout his life, Jim’s first priority was always his family; his wife, his sons, their wives and especially being ‘Papa’ to his dear grandchildren.
Beyond Jim’s devotion to family, he committed his life’s work to education. He was a leader and innovator in Catholic education as well as a trailblazer in special education and inclusivity. He began his teaching career with the Lasallian Schools in the 1950s before joining the Hamilton-Wentworth Roman Catholic Separate School Board in 1960. There he served as classroom teacher at Blessed Sacrament, vice principal/teacher at Our Lady of Lourdes and founding principal of St. Michael’s.
The philosophy of “Each Belongs” began here with Jim introducing a revolutionary idea to include students with special needs. James was appointed superintendent in 1968 and it was in this role that he championed this philosophy that has since been not only at the heart of education in the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board but also widely adopted throughout the world.
He believed strongly that all students belonged in neighbourhood schools with their siblings and friends, commenting, “Children have different needs. It’s our responsibility as educators to meet the needs of all of our children in a warm, welcoming and accepting environment where each child is valued for his or her own special qualities.” He assembled and inspired a talented and devoted team who worked tirelessly to make this belief a reality.
His response to those who spoke of ‘slow learners’ was that he didn’t believe education was supposed to be a race and often said that “Labels are great for food - not students.” Many of his beliefs and much of his passion came from his and his wife’s care and support for their son Paul and their work with the Rygiel Home.
He was frequently honoured and received many awards for his and his colleagues’ work, but for Jim, it was always just about doing the right thing.
Visitation will be held at P.X. Dermody Funeral Home, 796 Upper Gage Ave., Hamilton on Wednesday August 9th and Thursday August 10th from 2-4 and 7-9pm. Prayers will be offered on Thursday at 8pm.
A funeral mass will be celebrated on Friday August 11th at 10:30am at Annunciation of Our Lord Church, 280 Limeridge Road West, Hamilton. Cremation to follow.
In lieu of flowers, donations to Rygiel Supports for Community Living (www.rygiel.ca) would be greatly appreciated by the family.
“His memory will live forever”