Former Associate Provost David Yagow and Professor Vernon Hanson of the social work department died within the past two weeks. Yagow passed away at the age of 69 Oct. 23 and Hanson passed away Oct. 15 at the age of 81.

Vernon Hanson

Vernon Hanson was born July 2, 1932 in Fairfield, Mont., moving to the Puget Sound area with his family at age 10. He graduated Ballard High School in Seattle, then Pacific Lutheran University and then went on to serve in the U.S. Army for two years.

After marrying Marlis Majerus in 1958, Hanson attended Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., then interned in Fort Worth, Texas where his first child, Erik, was born. He soon moved to Medford, Ore., working as a Lutheran minister for five years, where his children Dayna and Kyle were born.

Hanson’s passion for social and economic justice during the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War led him away from the parish and toward a career in social work. After earning a master’s degree from the school of social service administration at the University of Chicago in 1970, he returned with his family to Tacoma to Pacific Lutheran University, where he influenced many students during his 24 years as a professor in the social work department.

At PLU, he initiated innovative programs aimed at broadening experiential learning opportunities, including New World House, the Cooperative Education program and Second Wind, a learning program for the elderly.

During the 1980s, he and his wife led student groups to Nicaragua, El Salvador and Mexico for experiences that combined service, education and social justice work.

A lifetime sports lover, Hanson played varsity baseball and basketball in high school and college. He remained physically active until Alzheimer’s slowed him down in recent years.

While in his 50s, he developed an interest in Tai Chi that continued after his retirement. In 1996, he founded the Tai Chi, Qigong, and Self Care Center of Tacoma. His Tai Chi practice took him to China for study several times.

Hanson’s kindness, humor and open-minded integrity have made a deep imprint on the lives of his family and friends. Always striving to be his best, he led modestly and by example. His unique career path, driven by strong progressive beliefs and values, inspired those around him. His ready smile and enjoyment of other people endeared him to all he met. He lovingly supported others, both in the pursuit of their dreams and in their moments of struggle.

Hanson is survived by his wife of 55 years, his three children and their partners, five grandchildren and brothers Bob and Merle. Hanson’s memorial will be held in early January, 2014.

This article was compiled using information from Vernon Hanson’s obituary published by his family.

David Yagow
Dave Yagow was born Dec. 17, 1943, in Rockford, Ill. He received his bachelor’s degree from Concordia Senior College (now Concordia Theological Seminary) in Fort Wayne, Ind., and in 1965 graduated with a master’s of divinity from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. He was ordained in the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, in 1970, later transferring to the ELCA roster.

Yagow worked as the registrar for Concordia Seminary in 1971 and was an assistant pastor at the Chapel of the Cross-Lutheran in St. Louis in 1973.

He was registrar and assistant professor of exegetical and practical theology at Concordia Seminary in Exile (Seminex) beginning in 1974.

He came to Pacific Lutheran University in 1976, where he was hired as executive assistant to then-Provost Richard Jungkuntz, and thus began his 24-year tenure in the Provost’s Office.

Yagow was promoted to deputy provost in 1983 and served in that role, later renamed associate provost, until 2000. In this role, he was a master of budget planning and implementation and served as recording secretary for the Deans Council.

He also led two university self-studies for the reaccreditation process. For the academic year 1988-89, he served as provost pro tem after Jungkuntz retired.

Between 2001 and 2007, he served as a senior lecturer of religion and as special assistant to the provost. He continued to teach religion classes part-time, as he had done while an administrator.

His students enjoyed Yagow as a teacher and engaged in spirited discussions with him during his classes. He officially retired from PLU in 2007.
Friends remember him as someone who absolutely came alive when he preached. He was well-known for his chapel homilies, where he often took on the persona of a biblical character.

Earlier in his career, he occasionally preached for the Sunday-morning worship program produced by Church Relations and broadcast on KPLU.
Yagow was known as a man who relished life and would always have an interesting story to tell when friends dropped by, philosophy professor emeritus, Paul Menzel, said.

“He was curious, intellectual and an avid reader,” Menzel said. “He had a fine, uplifting sense of humor.” Menzel also said Yagow was a gifted writer who knew the importance and the power of just the right word.

In his retirement, Yagow continued his travels to countless art shows throughout the region, making personal connections with vendors that continued through the years. For many years he attended the Puyallup Fair, now the Washington State Fair, each day it was open, becoming a docent of sorts at the piglet palace.

On campus, he was a dedicated and loyal fan of the tennis and track and field teams, but especially of the baseball team, regularly attending its practices as well as both home and away games. He befriended many student athletes and was proud of their personal, academic and athletic successes.

“He was passionate in the best sense,” Menzel said. “He spoke with insight, judgment and a deeply humane feeling.”
Services celebrating his life will be held Friday at 2:30 p.m. in Lagerquist Concert Hall.

This article was compiled using information from a press release sent out by the Office of the President Oct. 27. ◼︎

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