BATH – Barbara Hanson taught, nurtured and nudged countless young people as a special needs teacher and guidance counselor, and several more as a cherished grandmother.

“Grandma brought me to my first musical Grandma brought me to my first art gallery Grandma provided me with my first business skills,” read a sampling of endearments prepared for her 12 years ago by her five grandchildren.

Mrs. Hanson recalled the end of World War I and the influenza epidemic of 1918 and last month, she briskly hiked the hill near her assisted living facility in Bath. She spent the years between exposing three generations of descendants to the wonders the world had to offer from the tidal pools of her beloved Maine coast to the importance of a broad liberal arts education.

Mrs. Hanson died Friday at the age of 98.

“Education was just a really important part of her life,” said her daughter, Christine Littlefield of Old Orchard Beach, who was entering Cony High School just as her mother became a guidance counselor there.

“She was certainly encouraging kids to strive to be their best, college was always encouraged,” Littlefield said. “She grew up in a family of 10 and I think every one of them went to a postsecondary school of some sort.”

Thirty years after she retired, she still remembered some of the students who had made her proud, Littlefield said.

Mrs. Hanson was valedictorian of her high school in Connecticut, earned a bachelor’s degree from Pembroke Cole and a master’s degree in psychology from Brown University.

Early in her career, she specialized in teaching students with dyslexia and other special needs before taking the job at Cony.

She retired to Pemaquid in 1970 and from then on, the children, grandchildren and eventually great-grandchildren would visit. She would take the young ones to learn about the natural world, from searching for snakes to counting lady slippers.

She and her husband, John, who died in 1998, were year-round residents and regularly cared for the property of their neighbors, who would head south for the winter.

Mrs. Hanson was articulate, always made eye contact and had a great sense of humor right up to the days before her death, said her other daughter Sarah Foster of Manchester.

“She loved Scrabble and word games and she had constant energy,” Foster said. “Once the doctor said she needed a walker, she took every opportunity to forget where it was so she didn’t have to use it and she walked fine without it.”

Her buoyant temperament was a constant right up to the end of her life.

“Every place we went — hospital, nursing home — everybody said what a wonderful, glowing, happy, polite, positive person she was,” Littlefield said.

Visitation for family and friends will be at 10 a.m. at Knowlton & Hewins followed by a memorial service at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 27. 

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: [email protected]