In loving memory

sunny hansen

Sunny Hansen

Oct. 11, 1929–Dec. 21, 2020

Sunny Hansen (née Sundal) of Spring Park, Minn., passed away peacefully on Dec. 21, 2020, after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. Sunny was the daughter of Rasmus Sundal and Cora Sveen Sundal, and was born Oct. 11, 1929, in Albert Lea, Minn. Although named Lorraine at birth, her friends and family nicknamed her “Sunny” for her especially positive outlook on life. Later in life, she legally changed her name. She attended Albert Lea High School, where she graduated second in her class.

Sunny went on to study English at the University of Minnesota where she earned her B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in educational psychology. Most of her career, she worked as a professor of counseling psychology at the University of Minnesota, where she specialized in career development. Sunny had a lifelong interest in social issues of justice and equality. A major creative contribution she made to her field was “Born Free,” a highly successful training and development program for educators. Later, some of her most rewarding work came from advising dozens of doctoral students in the College of Education. For more than 30 years, Sunny lectured widely in the United States and in more than 30 countries on the subjects of counseling and career development. Sunny received many recognitions and awards in her career. In 2006, she was named one of 100 distinguished graduates of the University of Minnesota’s College of Education.

Sunny met her husband, Tor K. Hansen, in ULLR Ski Club in Minneapolis, and they married in 1962. They celebrated their 58th anniversary just before she passed. They raised a daughter, Sonja, and son, Tor, in White Bear Lake, Minn. She was an active member of Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis, where she particularly enjoyed hearing the choir. Sunny enjoyed swimming, reading, alpine skiing, dancing and golf with Tor, and daily walks.

Sunny loved her Norwegian heritage and enjoyed many trips to see her cousins at the family farmstead in Sundal, Norway. Sunny’s love of her children and grandchildren and hearing of their pursuits delighted her. She and Tor spent nearly 20 winters at their second home at Spring Run Golf Club Community in Bonita Springs, Fla.

Sunny will be remembered for her tremendous heart, her passion to teach, and her warm “sunny” smile. Her beautiful life will forever be remembered by those who loved her most; her husband, Tor; her children, Sonja (Matt) Johnson and Tor (Emily) Hansen; her grandchildren Walter, Sofia, Kyra, and Jana; and countless cousins in the United States and Norway. She was preceded in death by her parents and her dear sister Gloria, who died at a very young age.

A celebration of life service will be held later in 2021. Memorials may be made to the University of Minnesota Born Free scholarship fund or the Alzheimer’s Association.

A special thanks to the kind and gracious caregivers at Lake Minnetonka Shores Arbor Memory Care Center.

This article originally appeared in the March 12, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American.

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The Norwegian American

The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.