Alumni Friends Shared a Passion for SPU
Bud Hansen, Jack Arnold, Soph Arnold, and Ruth Hansen at Camp Casey.
Jack Arnold ’43 and Bud Hansen ’50 were close friends for four decades, and although their deaths were 10 years apart, the establishment of tributes to the two men was in perfect sync. Unbeknownst to both families, the Arnolds and Hansens recently set up named endowments at Seattle Pacific University on the very same day.
As close as the two friends were, they couldn’t have been more different. For example, Arnold was so outspoken his wife, Soph, feared he might be expelled for heckling the referee at Falcon basketball games. One day it happened: Jack was asked to leave. Never mind the fact he was confined to a wheelchair because of his muscular dystrophy. “That was Jack,” sighs Soph. “Wild and unconventional. He wasn’t afraid to speak up!”
Hansen was just as enthusiastic about SPU, but he wasn’t the heckling type. He was a focused and organized man with a range of interests spanning accounting to choral singing. A career educator with the Shoreline School District, he served as a Seattle Pacific trustee for 33 years. He was also active in Seattle’s First Free Methodist Church near campus. When Hansen was hit by a car and died suddenly in the spring of 2007, his loss inspired an outpouring of remembrances that helped console his four daughters and wife, Ruth Denison Hansen ’50.
Ten years earlier, Arnold had lost his battle with the neurological disease he’d had since childhood. An SPU Alumnus of the Year, he too was active in First Free Methodist Church, as well as the local chapter of the Muscular Dystrophy Association. “Jack was so spontaneous, so funny, you never noticed his disability,” remembers his wife. There was a picture of Arnold in the front window of his accounting and insurance business, which he ran from a house located next to the Seattle Pacific campus. When he died, one of his sons put up a sign that said, “He’s walking!” At the memorial service, a friend said Jack was doing more than that in heaven — more likely,
he was dancing.
Between them, Hansen and Arnold raised nine children. They organized Alumni Weekends at Camp Casey on Whidbey Island, where kids took turns playing in Arnold’s electric wheelchair. During tax season, both men worked at Arnold’s business. It was a popular place. Kids, clients, and friends dropped in so much
“it felt like Grand Central Station,” says Soph.
Memories of these two friends often center on their loyalty to
SPU. “My dad attended just about every event on campus,” says Lynne Hansen Hall ’76, who works in Seattle Pacific’s Office of University Advancement. “He and Mom were very involved in students’ lives. Almost every Sunday my folks had a student over for a home-cooked meal.”
Students were important to the Arnolds, too. They remodeled their home so SPU students could live there rent-free in exchange for helping out with Jack’s care as his health grew more fragile. “Those were some of the best times of our lives,” says Soph. “To this day, I stay in touch with many of those students.”
The Jack Arnold Scholarship Endowment will provide scholarships to undergraduate students with disabilities and financial need — a fitting memorial, the family says, for a man who feared he’d never graduate from Seattle Pacific because of the extent of his physical challenges. The Bernard E. Hansen Scholarship Endowment will provide scholarships to “deserving undergraduate students who seek to engage the culture and change the world.”
Editor’s note: For information about these endowments and others, visit //advance.spu.edu/endowment/.
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