Their families came to know them simply as "The Couples. " Eight students who graduated from Seattle Pacific University more than 50 years...

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Their families came to know them simply as “The Couples.”

Eight students who graduated from Seattle Pacific University more than 50 years ago and paired into marriage. Together, they organized annual Christmas parties, vacationed in Oregon, played dominoes. They watched their children grow and leave home.

Bernard “Bud” Hansen, longtime educator and SPU trustee, was among them, shaped by the values they all held dear: an unwavering commitment to the Free Methodist Church, to their alma mater and to those they loved.

Mr. Hansen died May 2 from head injuries after he was struck by a car near his home in Northgate. He was 79.

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Mr. Hansen grew up in Salem, Ore., and met his wife Ruth, at the SPU library. They were married within weeks of their 1950 graduation.

Soon after, Mr. Hansen enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve. In 1955, he began a 30-year career with the Shoreline School District — starting out as an elementary-school teacher, becoming a principal in 1961 and serving a final three years as the district’s director of elementary education.

Colleagues recall a take-charge man with a knack for making people feel special.

“He was always looking for an opportunity for me to grow,” said Jay Hambly, a former superintendent who began teaching at Sunset Elementary under Mr. Hansen. “Everything I learned about being an effective leader, I learned from Bud.”

Hambly said Mr. Hansen encouraged him to involve the entire school in a 1976 presidential-election project. Each classroom was turned into a mock state with its own political parties, caucuses and candidates. Students loved it and began following the real election.

Mr. Hansen served one of the longest terms ever on the SPU Board of Trustees: 33 years.

“Bud could be tough in deliberation or conversation on the board. He could be pretty penetrating,” said SPU President Phil Eaton, who added that Mr. Hansen was always supportive regardless of whether he got his way.

Mr. Hansen’s family shared his love for his alma mater. Wife Ruth worked at SPU for 25 years in the School of Education. The couple’s four children all graduated from SPU. One granddaughter now works at the school while another is a freshman there.

Son Dirk Hansen, of Leamington Spa, England, said his father’s dedication to family shined seven years ago when he arranged for the 17 children and grandchildren to meet in Hawaii for Bud and Ruth’s 50th wedding anniversary.

Mr. Hansen was recently helping write a history of the Shoreline School District. He was the second of the eight SPU friends to pass away.

“Still the four couples get together, even though one of the other men is gone,” said Bill Burr, 78. “We will continue that until none of us is left, I think.”

In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Hansen is survived by three daughters: Lynne Hall, of Redmond; Jill Barrett, of Snohomish; and Sue McPeak, of Seattle. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Friday at the First Free Methodist Church, 3200 Third Avenue W., Seattle.

Nick Perry: 206-515-5639 or

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