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Hanson, Harry

Harry Hanson

submitted by

Prof. Michael Rustad

I don't know whether many of you will remember Harry Hanson, our dentist in Hallock. One of my favorite activities was to look at old yearbooks from the 1950s and 1960s in the waiting room. I remember Edna Ingalls very well. She was the equivalent of today would be a dental hygeniest. I remember that Dr. Hanson would not let any of his kids eat sugar or drink pop. I thought about those poor deprived kids as I greedily consumed Sugardaddys, 7/up bars, and assorted goodies. I remember that we would occasionally meet up with Dr. Hanson at Lake Bronson and he would give us a ride in our boat. I remember one ironic aspect of those visits. We were given treats if we were good at the dentist. We would first load up with candy at Clay's drugstore and then we would go to the dentist. I still remember that we would always stop at the Dairy Whirl on the way home. I think it was near the bowling alley. I guess we were good repeat customers because of our insistence of eating so much sugar and not having fluoride in the water.

I think we had a lot of dental problems from the lack of fluoride in the water. Today kids hardly ever have a cavity. I don't think either of my kids have had more than 1 cavity in their life. I think I had 2 or 3 cavities every visit! I assume that many residents of our area also went to the dentist in Pembina, or Dr. Hoffman in Lancaster. My Mother took us to Dr. Hoffman when Dr. Hanson was serving in Korea. He served Lancaster until very recently. Monte Hoffman played basketball for Lancaster and was one of the first persons to wear contact lenses in our area. The other person was Scott McAllen, son of Hallock's optometrist. 

An historical journey of service

Hallock dentist retires after 51 years

Harry Hanson

Contemplating starting his 52nd year in dentistry in Hallock, Dr. Harry Hanson was a little nostalgic. After all, he had survived the Korean war, a fire that destroyed his second office, and fellow dentist Joe Bouvette as a patient. Eventually, Hanson decided it was time to take a break and relax.

Harry was born in California and moved to the Lake Bronson area around the sixth grade. He completed high school there and went on to get his bachelor of biology and chemistry degree at Concordia College. Four years later he was enrolled at the University of Minnesota in dental school and graduated from there in 1953.

When coming back to the area, Dr. Treleaven was the dentist above the old Farmers Store in Hallock.

"He told me he wasn't feeling well and asked me if I could fill in for him at his office for a few months while he took time off. About nine months later, I was drafted into the army and sent to Korea and then Japan," Hanson said.

Once discharged in September of 1956, he again returned to the area.

"I helped my Dad finish the harvest and started looking around Minnesota for a job. Bergeson, another dentist in Hallock, had been here about four years above the old bank. (Now Gillie Jewelers building.) He wanted to leave and I bought him out for $250, even his house, which was new and not finished yet," recalls Hanson.

However, since the barber shop was downstairs and the dentist upstairs, Harry thought this was inconvenient for older people to get to him.

"I talked to Joe Carrier who owned the Hallock Theater building and Lester Rock the jeweler had just left town. I was able to rent his space that September," he said.

Unfortunately the building burned down in 1975. He says he was at a synod meeting in Fargo when the fire started and his Dad called to tell him.

"I couldn't believe it. But they were able to save all my records and my waiting room chairs," Hanson exclaims pointing to the chairs in his current lobby. Thankfully, Dr. Joe Bouvette said Hanson could use his second office while he shopped for a new location.

In 1976, he moved into the current home health office at Kittson Memorial until 1992 when he moved across the hall to his present location. His staff has always been pretty constant, too.

"Edna Ingalls worked for me for 30 years. I had some high school girls in the summer and then Edna went to Thief River Falls to visit her son, got sick and never came back," he recalls.

About 1992 Amy Hanson had moved to Lancaster and was in visiting Harry for a dental problem. The two started talking and soon Amy was hired as his full-time assistant. Pat Derouin is part-time and has worked for him almost as long.

Hanson said he had trouble going on a vacation in the past and worrying about his patients, so he can now look forward to a worry-free retirement.

With a busy past volunteer record as the oldest Lion's member, church council member, boy scout leader, member of the businessmen, and chairman of the NW district of Dentistry, a break going fishing or goose hunting will be a welcomed sight.

Although he hasn't taken a new patient for the last three years, Dr. Hanson has maintained 2,400 active dental patients, from all over North Dakota, Minnesota and Canada, at his practice. He looks forward to helping the community welcome Dr. Travis Hanel to his office starting next month.

"The dentist in Stephen retired, too, and his hygienist will now be working for Travis. She will bring some of his clients to the practice as well. Really lots of patients, really exciting!" Harry said.


Prof. Michael Rustad


Hanson, Harry Jr.
B: 31 Mar 1928 to Harry and Hilda (Lee) Hanson
D: 14 May 2008, Kittson Memorial Hospital, Hallock, MN
M: 19 Nov 1954, Wilma Kiewin

Children of Harry Hanson and Wilma Kiewin:

Timothy Hanson
B: 26 May 1966, Hallock, MN
D: 18 Mar 2007, North Memorial Hospital (auto accident)