Norman C. Bansen, longtime English professor at Dana College in Blair, Nebraska, died on January 21, 2004, at the age of 83, at the Good Shepherd Home in Blair.
Bansen, a native Californian, was born on November 26, 1920, to Peter H. and Anne M. Bansen of Ferndale. It was there, in the valley of the Eel River in Northern California, that he was baptized and confirmed at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church. He attended elementary and secondary school in Ferndale.
Norman came to Dana as a freshmen in 1939, and after serving in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1946 - much of the time as a captain stationed in India, he returned to Dana - where he received his B.A. in 1947.
Following a few years as Director of Public Relations at Dana, he joined the faculty as an instructor of English. His professional career at Dana continued until his retirement in 1986, except for a few years when he received his M.A. from the University of Minnesota, and a year when he was a visiting professor in the Scandinavian Department at the University of California at Berkeley.
In 1970, Bansen was named to the Order of the Knights of Dannebrog by Frederik IX, King of Denmark, and in 1980 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. Dana College designated him a “Distinguished Alumnus” in 1991. Bansen was one of the founders of the Danish Immigrant Museum in Elk Horn, Iowa. In 1999, Passages from India, a book containing his wartime letters, papers and poems, was published by Lur Publications of the Danish Immigrant Archive- Dana College.
His love of gardening, literature, travel and the Danish heritage marked his non-academic life, but Bansen’s greatest contribution was as a teacher. In this role, he inspired and affirmed Dana students over a period of four decades. He left a further living legacy on the Dana campus with the Danish beech trees he acquired in 1955, from the city of Odense, Denmark, to commemorate the anniversary of the birth of Hans Christian Andersen, and the linden trees, that circle the oval, which he influenced Berlin’s mayor, Willie Brandt, to send to Dana.
Bansen was preceded in death by his parents, Peter and Anne Bansen; and a brother, Stanley.
He is survived by his brother, Lloyd and his wife Ann; sister- in-law, Dora; and many nieces and nephews and their families. Among these locally are Pete and Mary Ann Bansen and their family. Besides these family members, a host of friends, colleagues and former students mourn his death.
A Memorial Service will be held on April 7, 2004, at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Ferndale, at 2:00 p.m. Everyone is invited to attend this celebration of Norman C. Bansen’s life.
The family suggest memorials be given to the Bansen Scholarship Fund at Dana College, or Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Ferndale.
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