David Joseph Hanson

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1926 - 2016
David Joseph Hanson, an aficionado of classical literature and the liberal arts, an author of works on Shakespeare's verse, a gifted pianist, and an enthusiast of Greek and Roman history, passed away peacefully in Danville, California, on April 16th, 2016.

Born December 26th, 1926 in Duluth, Minnesota to Francis Joseph and Eulalie (Chisholm) Hanson, he moved with his family to Larchmont, New York, in 1939. He attended Georgetown Preparatory School in Maryland. A sergeant in the US Air Force during WWII, Mr. Hanson received an honorable discharge when the war ended. Reenlisting in 1949, he became a pilot cadet. He earned a Liberal Arts degree from Columbia University where he was an ardent student of the renowned scholar and poet, Mark Van Doren; he later referred to his time with Van Doren as "the most important four years of my life." He also earned a Master's Degree in Philosophy. His first job was teaching English grammar at Kent Preparatory School in Connecticut.

In 1955, he moved to San Francisco and taught in the Humanities Department at SF State University. In 1956, he married Elizabeth Ann George; the couple moved to Walla Walla, Washington, where he taught English Literature at Whitman College. Later, they moved back to the SF Bay Area, and Mr. Hanson was adopted into the oil business by his father-in-law, working in that industry until his final days.

Mr. Hanson spent a lifetime mastering the liberal arts and had a passion for the works of Shakespeare and Elizabethan history. He wrote several essays and published two works on Shakespeare, and was a well-regarded expert on the historical mystery regarding the authorship of the plays, which he argued belonged to Edward De Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford. An expert in the Western canon, he was fluent in Latin and well-read in many subjects, including Greek and Roman history, Aristotelian logic and rhetoric, the works of Plato, as well as St. Thomas Aquinas' and Al-Ghazzali's metaphysics. Upon reading Sir Winston Churchill's _A History of the English-Speaking Peoples_, he said of Churchill, "He is not less than Shakespeare in his mastery of the English sentence." After many previous readings, Mr. Hanson reread the entire canon of ancient Greek plays in his final year, saying, "I just wanted to make sure I didn't miss anything."

Mr. Hanson was a gifted pianist and had a lifelong love for the poetry of Robert Frost and Ovid, and translated into modern English Ovid's Metamorphoses. His friends knew him as a renaissance man and an old-fashioned gentlemen. He was the beloved father of Elizabeth, Mark, Mariah, and Troy, and eight grandchildren: Yahya, Ibrahim, Kinza,

Adam, Omar, Daniel, Ishaq, and Matteo. He was preceded in death by his second sister, Yvonne Lewis, but is survived by his first sister, Theresa Quattrone. He is survived by many cousins, nieces, and nephews. A memorial service will be held later. Friends and family bid him a Shakespearean farewell: "Good night, sweet prince; And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!"
Published on NYTimes.com from Apr. 17 to Apr. 18, 2017