Hanson, Jeanne Rauch Kitchen of Edina, Minnesota, passed away on July 13, 2022, nine months following a devastating stroke, from which she recovered enough to have intelligent conversation but not the active life she loved. She was cared for in her final months and days by the amazing doctors, nurses and palliative team at Fairview Southdale Hospital, rehab team at Mt. Olivet and countless long term care providers doing the hardest of jobs. Born August 12, 1944, in Cincinnati, Ohio, Jeanne was the oldest of four children of Jane Rauch Kitchen and John Kitchen, and also the oldest of ten cousins and grandchildren of Gertrude Schnull Rauch and John Rauch (her beloved “Oma” and “Popop”), an experience to which she attributed her sometimes overly executive, herding dog-type personality. She was raised in Indianapolis, attended Tudor Hall school and spent summers in Forest Beach, Harbor Springs, Michigan, swimming and lifeguarding, spending time on her grandparents’ porch and at Camp Crystalaire, where she said she learned to eat quickly or miss meals. She graduated from Wellesley College, her mother’s alma mater. While in Boston, she met Burton Randall Hanson of Benson, Minnesota, who was then at Harvard Law School, on Operation Match, supposedly the first computer dating service. After graduating with a degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, she moved with “Randy” to Minneapolis, married and became a thoroughly naturalized Minnesotan, except that she was always fancier in her tastes, and more impeccable in her speech, than the average egalitarian Scandinavian. She hated improper grammar and always corrected it. After teaching English for several years at Golden Valley High School (now Breck, where one of her grandsons attends school), Jeanne obtained a degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota and started her career in writing and publishing, first working at University Relations focusing on developments in the sciences and eventually becoming a literary agent and writer, publishing some 20 books of her own, including Game Plans for Children: Raising a Brighter Child in 10 Minutes a Day; The Winter City Book: A Guide for the Frost Belt; The Beastly Book: 100 of the World’s Most Dangerous Creatures; The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Trees and Shrubs and The Poetry of Angels as well as travel articles for The New York Times and others. Everything was worth writing about. She helped many other writers’ dreams of publication come to fruition and was always coming up with book ideas for someone to write, even her minor children. Jeanne balanced work and motherhood, going part-time temporarily after the birth of her daughter Jennifer and son Erik (having to pump from the bathroomit was the 1970s). She was an indefatigable, ceaselessly energetic, creative, demanding mother who expected her children to work hard and be as exceptional as every parent believes their children to be. Outside school, she took us on over 40 trips during childhood, covering half the states as well as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Canada and England. She loved natural beauty, avoided cities where possible and wanted to stop at every roadside attraction. Mom said yes to almost everything in her life and did get a little sad when her enthusiasm was not matched at every turn, but she always bounced back with another idea. In her later years, she found joy in new friendships and learning opportunities, particularly through the University of Minnesota’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute; leading groups of travel writers to Iceland; writing and teaching about natural history and science; travel with Jennifer and family, friends and Road Scholar to star parties, national parks, historical attractions, Hawaii, New Zealand, the desert southwest and anywhere else someone wanted to go; hiking near her beautiful house on the north shore of Lake Superior with her Australian shepherds Mathilda, Alice and Zy and in her three grandchildren, converting Science News articles into kid-friendly tidbits, playing scrabble with and tutoring them every day during the March-July 2020 shutdowns. She was generous to a fault, expected much from others and herself but in the end found peace with her life, her family and the world. On her deathbed she was still inquiring about the new space telescope images, political developments affecting women, her grandchildren’s summer plans and, in general, “what’s next?” As usual, she will know before the rest of us and be ready to share the news someday. Jeanne is predeceased by her parents, sister Louise and son Erik and survived by her sister Margie, brother John, ex-husband Randy, daughter Jennifer (Jamie Schillinger), grandchildren Linus (11), Knut (9) and Elsa (4) and many nieces, nephews and cousins. Private family service.
Published on July 15, 2022