Farewell Tom Hansen, "Mr. Sports in the Twin Ports"

By KBJR News 1

March 22, 2013 Updated Mar 22, 2013 at 11:04 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- It was 1985 when Tom Hansen first moved to the Northland, and he's never left.

"At times it's been a blur, but at the same time it seems like a lifetime ago that I started," Hansen said. "I had no idea I'd be here 28 years - no way."

Night after night for more than two decades, it was Tom viewers trusted most for highlights of their local teams and athletes.

"He became part of your team," University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD) interim athletics director Karen Stromme said. "If he was covering the team, he felt like he was on the team."

"That comes through," UW-Superior sports information director Jon Garver said. "It comes through in the way he reports stories. It comes through in the way he interacts with people."

"You just become attached to them," KBJR6 weekend meterologist Dave Anderson said. "After 20-25 years, that becomes really hard to let go."

Born in Milwaukee and raised in St. Paul, Tom's not a native of the Northland, but you'd never know.

"He's not from here originally," former WDIO sports anchor Ray Higgins said. "He went to school here, fell in love here, and then fell in love with the community."

"He hasn't been shy about getting involved in the community," Duluth News Tribune sportswriter Kevin Pates said, "and getting out there to say, 'I'm part of you. I'm part of the community.'"

That community came to rely on Tom, as did his co-workers, and one summer day in the late-1990s, a huge favor was asked.

"I was supposed to do a live shot down at the port, and the live shot didn't work," former KBJR6 chief meteorologist George Kessler said. "Who answered the call? Tom. He put aside whatever sports he was doing, jumped in completely cold, and did the weather like the pro that he is."

It wasn't always professional for Tom, specifically in his own, personal dress code.

"In all that time, I don't think he wore long pants more than 10 percent of the time," KBJR6 general manager David Jensch said. "He wears a suit coat on the top, but he's got on running shoes or sandals and shorts, especially in the summertime."

The job's taken him around the country, but his favorite stories are still those he told here in the Northland.

"I took pride in covering the local kids, teams, and athletes," Tom said,
" because they're the ones who do it for the fun of participating. And to be able to see that excitement and tell those stories, to me, was the best."

Posted by Zach Schneider
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