Former Oakdale mayor passes away; leaves a legacy of community pride

Robert C. Hanson

Robert C. Hanson, a former Oakdale mayor and city council member, died May 21 due to a stroke. The Oakdale resident, who was 88 years old at the time of his death, served the city as a council member from 1972 to 1976 and as mayor from 1977 to 1978.

Hanson’s son, Brad Hanson, said his father was very proud to have been Oakdale’s mayor and learned a lot from his time on the council. He added, “It was a real highlight for him to be able to contribute to the city in that way.”

Hanson’s daughter, Missy Hamre explained that one city project that was especially close to Hanson’s heart was the creation of the Oakdale Nature Preserve. She added that her father fought hard to keep the land undeveloped, something that became a point of pride for him.

“He was very proud to do that work for the community and fight for the community, and he took great pride in that [mayoral] job and worked very hard at it,” Hamre said.

Hamre described her father as someone who loved to learn. “He was always up on current events and he was very well read,” she said.

Hanson graduated from North St. Paul High School in 1947, and later worked as a purchasing manager at Ecolab, a job he had for over 30 years. 

“He was ill with asthma when he was a young man so going to college was not an option for him, but he was very proud of what he was able to accomplish with just simply a high school education,” Brad said.

As an adult, Hanson’s community involvement extended beyond Oakdale and into North St. Paul, where he was involved with both St. Mark’s Lutheran Church and the North St. Paul Historical Society. 

He spent a lot of time at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, serving for several years on the church council and on call committees, Hamre said.

Hanson was also an active member of the North St. Paul Historical Society. He served on the board for several years and was vice president at the time of his death.

Sue Springborn, president of the historical society, said Hanson was the one who encouraged her to get involved with the organization.

She added that he attended many meetings and events over the years and would regularly take photos, which were often used in the historical society’s newsletter.

Hamre said Hanson loved talking to people, giving tours for the historical society and sharing the history of North St. Paul.

“He was a very social man,” Hamre said, adding with a laugh, “If somebody called and it was the wrong number he’d strike up a conversation.”

He also was “a little overly proud” of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Hamre said, explaining that he had a habit of bragging about his loved ones in front of them.

Brad said that his father taught him the difference between right and wrong and the importance of always trying to do the right thing.

“He was a very good father and grandfather and great-grandfather,” Hamre added.

Hanson was preceded in death by his parents Rud and Leora and his brother Jim. He is survived by Arlita, his loving wife of 66 years; and their children Brad (Mary) and Missy (Mark) Hamre; grandchildren Kyle (Chayna) Hamre and Meghan (Tom) Esser; and great-grandchildren Eli and Addison Esser and Jocelyn Hamre.

Hanson’s funeral service was held May 29 at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church followed by an interment at Evergreen Memorial Gardens. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to go to the North St. Paul Food Shelf.


– Aundrea Kinney can be reached at 651-748-7822 or

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