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Life Story / Obituary
November 12, 1940 – July 4, 2016
Rod Hansen, “the great voice of the great lakes,” passed away peacefully in his home on the fourth of July, with his wife Chris, his son Eric and three daughters, Kristen, Heidi and Kelly by his side. Rod had close friendships with his son in-laws Bob Roy and Ken Watson, and was the cherished Papa to five grandchildren, Addison, Emily, Forrest, Owen and Keegan.
Rod was preceded in death by his parents, Holger and Guelda Hansen of Saginaw, Michigan.
Rod was married to Janet Thompson from 1965 – 1983. Together they raised three children, Eric, Kristen and Heidi. In 1988, Rod met Chris McCarthy; they were married four years later and recently celebrated their 24 th wedding anniversary. Rod and Chris have one daughter, Kelly Anne. When asked about his family, Rod’s reply was always the same, “I am the luckiest man I know.”
Among his fondest memories, Rod often told stories of his childhood summers spent with Grandma Hanson in Grayling, Michigan. He sold newspapers at Camp Grayling with his childhood friend, Billy Martin and tagged along with his older cousin David “Skip” Hanson and his friend Sandy Thompson. The stories of skinny dipping in the watering hole (only to have his clothes stolen), horseback riding, fishing, playing baseball and causing mischief are countless and reminiscent of a simpler life and time.
As a young boy, Rod grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. He enjoyed baseball and football and lettered in these sports at his high school, Lakewood. Rod earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Bowling Green State University in 1963 and was inducted into BGSU’s School of Journalism Hall of Fame in 1985.
After working a few years as a radio anchor in Akron, Ohio, Rod moved to Detroit, Michigan and began what would be a 38- year career at WJR Radio. It was 1967 and the height of the riots; the beginning of an extraordinary career and the making of an exceptional investigative news reporter.
For all of his professional accomplishments, Rod was a simple man. He preferred a hot dog at the Coney Island over fine-dining any day of the week. He never wanted, nor did he ever own, a new vehicle. He hit the streets of Detroit every day in his worn Dockers and Levis; there was nothing pretentious about him.
He loved going to the dirty race track on Saturdays and places his bets on the horses. Most Sunday mornings he could be found at the “roundtable” in the corner bar having coffee with his buddies, smoking cigarettes and mulling over the racing forms.
Rod was a loyal fan of the Detroit Tigers and Lions and looked forward to cheering on the Spartans as his youngest daughter, Kelly, will be attending Michigan State University in the fall. An ardent supporter of the Canton High School Girls Swim and Dive team, Rod was a fixture on the bleachers at nearly every meet.
He was an old-fashioned soul and frequently used terms such as “sweeper,” “ice box,” “bi-fold” and “gal.” Rod Hansen was the golden voice of Detroit and the guiding voice to all of his children. Among his favorite sayings were, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” and “If you’re happy, you win.”
A great man has indeed passed our way. May love rest on his pillow.