Robert Milton Hanson

Bob was an amazing man who gave over 60 years of volunteer service to the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington.  He was a founding father of the YMCA Bethesda-Chevy Chase, and a great supporter of the YMCA mission. Bob was the Chairman of the Board the year the YMCA Bethesda-Chevy Chase opened in 1964.  Bob was at the first ribbon cutting ceremony, and we were so fortunate to have him cut the ribbon at our reopening in June of this year. It was a surprise that a time capsule was found in the front of the building behind the logo containing the blue prints, member list, donor list, and a list of programs and services that Bob placed there in 1964. A new time capsule was inserted behind the logo in our new Community Room which continues to keep Bob’s legacy alive.  He was an inspiration to all, and he will be greatly missed by so many people in our community.  Bob selflessly donated his time, talent and treasure to the YMCA Bethesda-Chevy Chase.

*All gifts will support the YMCA Bethesda Chevy Chase.

Robert Milton Hanson, was born in Washington, D.C. on April 27, 1924, as a member of the third generation of his family to live there, and the first member to be born in a hospital. His maternal grandfather founded E.G. Schafer, a plumbing supply business that dated in the family from around 1860. As a child, Bob recalls living in the family home that backed up to Rock Creek Park, cleaning the family stables and horseback riding, and flying model airplanes in DAR Constitution Hall. His family was well connected in Washington (his mother was in the Daughters of the American Revolution and his father was one of the chairmen for President Herbert Hoover’s inauguration committee) and that gave him access to many of the activities going on in the Nation’s Capital at that time.

Bob had a remarkable memory of his childhood. With vivid details, he recalled riding alongside the family chauffeur in the front seat of his father’s 1929 seven passenger Packard. As they drove along, Bob took great pride in being able to state the name and year of manufacture of any car that passed by.

Bob grew up riding horses in Rock Creek Park near Meadowbrook Stables, in Chevy Chase. He attended Landon School in Bethesda, graduating in 1943, where he was on the riding team. Later, when asked by his sons if they could have a car to drive to school, Bob would volunteer that he had to ride his horse to school, effectively ending the conversation.

After moving to the new family farm, Mt Prospect, near Gaithersburg, in 1941, Bob joined the local 4-H club and raised Berkshire hogs and Black Angus cattle. He became a 4-H Club Leader and with 15 others, served on the organizing committee in 1945 that helped form the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair. Bob was voted into the 4-H All Stars, the highest recognition that a 4-H’er can achieve. During World War II the local Draft Board required Bob to stay on the farm, while his elder brother served in the Army in Africa and Italy. In 1945, Bob was selected as the President of Rural Youth of America, a national association of youth groups including 4-H and FFA. Bob remained active in farming in Montgomery County, cultivating hundreds of acres in the county and breeding cattle and hogs and completing his agricultural education at the University of Maryland. He married JoAnne Dingwell on September 7, 1950 (the start of nearly 60 years together), and shortly after, was called up to serve in the US Air Force as an intelligence officer during the Korean War.

After returning from the Korean War, while continuing the farming, he joined Jones Kreeger, a brokerage firm which provided investment services through their seat on the New York Stock Exchange. During this time, Bob and JoAnne were raising a family which included three sons. Bob became active in the Rockville Rotary Club, served as its President in 1958-1959, served on the Board of the Metropolitan YMCA, and began serving on the American Automobile Association Mid-Atlantic Advisory Board, which he continued for over thirty years. As a partner in Jones Kreeger and manager of the Bethesda branch of the firm, he became a member of the Finance Committee of the Montgomery County Government. At this time he is credited with arranging the acquisition of the Rockville Civic Center property. While serving on the Metropolitan YMCA Board as Secretary, he became one of the founding members of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase YMCA and served as its Chairman. In 1964, with other leaders, Bob championed the cause to integrate the Metropolitan Washington YMCA. This spring he attended the ribbon cutting of the completion of its first phase of the BCC YMCA’s expansion and renovation. He did all this while also managing the family farm.

For nine years, Bob served as Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 8 in Bethesda Maryland, and then as Scoutmaster of the International Jamboree Troop 314 of the 13th World Jamboree in Japan in 1971. All three sons were members of the troop as well as his nephews and Sunday School students. He received his Wood Badge beads in the late 1960’s as one of the Go Go Goshen Eagles and served as an instructor in later courses. He received the Silver Beaver Award from the National Capital Area Council of the Boy Scouts for his leadership in Scouting and in the community. Bob is also credited with arranging for the acquisition of the land at the corner of Cedar Lane and Rockville Pike from the Parker Family for the Council Headquarters in 1968. He was registered as a Scout leader for many years, and opened the farm to use by Boy Scout and Girl Scouts units for over 75 years.

Bob continued his activity in Rotary, was elected District Governor for 1982-1983 of District 7620, became an instructor of upcoming leaders and became a Major Donor to the Rotary Foundation. Bob achieved 52 consecutive years of perfect attendance and participated in many of the Rotary International Conventions.

After retiring from the brokerage business in 1986, Bob continued farming, caring for JoAnne’s horses, raising Black Angus beef cattle, alfalfa hay and mixed hay, and gardening on Mt. Prospect Farm. He was active in the Men’s Garden Club of Montgomery County as well as the Montgomery County Farmers Club. It was at this time he and JoAnne did most of their overseas traveling. Another hobby that emerged at this time was antique automobiles.

Bob’s interest in showing and touring antique automobiles was shared with his older brother, Bill. Bob accumulated a stable of vehicles, including a 1915 Ford Model T, a 1940 Ford wooden station wagon, a 1971 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow sedan and a 1938 Lincoln limousine. It was the 1938 Lincoln that provided the most entertainment and joy to Bob. He regularly took this Lincoln on events with the Classic Car Club of America and the Antique Automobile Club of America. Perhaps the pinnacle of his antique automobile activities was attending the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2011 with the Lincoln. At this most prestigious car show, he received a Third Place trophy in his class and the Best Lincoln At Show trophy.

He has served in several Montgomery County commissions, including the Circuit Court of Montgomery County, Property Review Commission, Farmer member; Member of the Montgomery County Rustic Roads Commission; and the Advisory Committee member of the Montgomery County Potomac Sub-Region Master Plan for 2002.

Bob was an active member of First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Chevy Chase, including serving as First Reader, Sunday School teacher and several terms on the Board of Trustees. He enjoyed being an active member of many local clubs and organizations including The Woman’s Club of Chevy Chase and Columbia Country Club in addition to supporting JoAnne’s interest in horses, the Potomac Hunt and National Society of Arts & Letters. After JoAnne’s passing in 2010, Bob was joined in traveling and touring by their dear friend of 52 years, Jane Boynton, and by his sons.

Bob quietly passed, at home on Friday, August 16. His wife, JoAnne passed in 2010. Bob is survived by his three married sons, John (Ann), Charles (Janet), and Timothy (Alicia), his five grandchildren and a great-grandson.

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