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Monroe Tractor Founder Henry Hansen Dies at Age 94

Known for his big heart, kind nature and contagious smile, he was an outdoorsman, philanthropist and family man.

Wed December 03, 2014 - Northeast Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

Henry Hansen, a beloved husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather, passed away Oct. 25, 2014, at the age of 94 at his home in Henrietta, N.Y. Known for his big heart, kind nature and contagious smile, he was an outdoorsman, philanthropist and family man.

Mr. Hansen was the son of Chris and Laura Hansen and was born in Bellona, N.Y., on June 1, 1920. He helped on his family farm, attended RIT and later served in the U.S. Navy. On Feb. 22, 1947, he married Dorothy Miller of Barre Center, N.Y.

Along with his wife, Mr. Hansen started Monroe Tractor in 1951. They grew the business from a single location in Henrietta, N.Y., to 11 locations in upstate New York, serving both the construction and agricultural equipment industries from Albany to Buffalo and Binghamton to Watertown.

Mr. Hansen helped grow the construction rental business in the late 1960s. At times there could be 50 Case backhoes lined up at the main location in Henrietta, which became known as “Backhoe Park.”

Surviving him is his wife, Dorothy; their four daughters, Janet (Greg) Felosky, Darlene (Les) Shephard, Sandy (Desi) Alvarez, and Lana (Marc) Reuss; also his 11 grandchildren, Alex (Allison) Davis, Chris (Jenny) Felosky, Laura (Scott) Wilkas, Shaun (Lauren) Shephard, Kim (Matt) Sullivan, Cody (Courtney) Alvarez, Bryant (Erin) Shephard, Jody (Tom) Abrams, Brooke (Joel) Fontenot-Amedee, Evelyn Reuss, Livia Reuss; and his fourteen great grandchildren. He also is survived by his brothers Ed and Chris Hansen. Mr. Hansen is predeceased by brothers Vern and Stewart Hansen and daughter Shirley Hansen.

Monroe Tractor’s Marketing Manager Laura Wilkas Remembers Her Grandfather

"For those who don’t know fme, I am Henry’s oldest granddaughter, Laura Wilkas. Standing here today is no easy feat. How do you give the respect to the man who was the pillar of our family and the community? He leaves us with a legfacy that is defined by hard work, sacrifice, perseverance, generosity and modesty.

I recently came across an article called ’The Dash.’ It spoke about how when people die, they often focus on the birth date and the end date, looking over the most important part of those dates. If you look on the front of your program you will notice there is a dash that connects those two dates. For that dash represents 94 years of one hell of a life. (Sorry Pastor Dave)

I certainly can’t speak for all of those years but I can reflect on what I believe makes my grandfather’s ’dash’ as great as it was.

His youthfulness: As I look back, we were spoiled. Not spoiled by tangible things, but spoiled because grandpa never showed his age. His physical and mental agility was always years younger than he actually was. His love of outdoors whether it was skiing, hunting or taking care of his property, kept him strong. His love of work and being around younger people kept his mind sharp. For me, it’s what makes saying goodbye the hardest, you never expected him to be his age.

His kind nature: ’If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.’ That was Grandpa’s motto. You might think, easier said than done. I know I did, every time he said it. But as I reflect on that saying it was really the framework of what made him the man he was, a great man. I’ve never heard him say anything negative about a person. He gave people respect and was respected because of it.

Hard work and sacrifice: For as long as I can remember my grandfather was always working. Whether it was at the office, in the yard or planting trees at one of his various properties, the man didn’t slow down. He had a work ethic that you don’t see these days, which is evident in all the things he did. He started Monroe Tractor 63 years ago with my grandmother at his side. For years she was the only employee. He sacrificed for his family so that he could provide for them down the road.

Generosity and Modesty: Gramps gave without expecting anything in return. He enjoyed giving back to the community that gave him his start and supporting the people who went out of their way for him and his family. He made a success of his life but lived an understated, modest lifestyle.

Love: He taught us what love really is. It’s not about how many times you say the word but it is about your actions that support the word. No matter how many times he told you to ’keep still’ (which I heard a lot) you knew he always loved you. Grandpa loved his daughters, his son in laws, grandkids and great grandchildren and it was apparent by the way he took care of them, surrounding himself with his family and provided them with the guidance to make the most of life. The biggest example of his love was how he loved my grandmother. If there was ever a love to be respected it was my grandfather’s love for my grandmother. He always had a twinkle in his eye when he looked at her, even if they were bickering. They loved each other through the hard times and lived life to the fullest during the good times. They created a family who hope to reflect that same love in their own lives. Grandma, you were his rock just as much as he was yours.

In closing, Grandpa, you gave us a lot. Regardless of the tangible thing, you have given us so much more. We have a wonderful family that provided us the foundation for our own families. We have strong work ethics, drive and passion for what we do. We are who we are because of you. You provided us with the things money can’t buy; you have made us who we are from head to toe, inside and out. We love you."

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