Shirley “Shirl” J. Hanson


Shirley “Shirl” J. Hanson, 79, passed away peacefully, June 26, 2024, at Hillview Nursing Home in La Crosse.

Shirley was one of five children born in Arcadia  to her parents, Marian and Aaron Kotlarz. They were raised on the family farm, now lovingly known as Aaron’s Acres. When Shirley was a young girl, her dad became sick and she and her siblings became “little farmers” to support their mom. The family was able to stay on the family farm after their dad passed with the generous support of their neighbors. They had many fun and mischievous times, running through the pastures and woods on the farm.

Shirley met her husband, Robert (Bob) Hanson, through her sister, Louise, and after a short courtship, they were married in 1961. Their first home was in Independence, in the apartment above Bob’s mom, Helen. They raised three beautiful, intelligent and creative children together who were just as mischievous as Shirley was. Whenever the children were in trouble with Shirley, they knew they could run downstairs to Grandma Helen to help them. It was a wonderful first family home before Shirley and Bob moved to their next home in La Crosse, where they continued to raise their family.

Shirley was also a very proud grandmother of three grandchildren: Amie, Jeremy and Emily, and one great-granddaughter, Tabitha Gilles. Shirl spent a lot of time with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren when they were young. She helped with Amie’s beauty pageants, played dress up and always found a big tote to turn into a swimming pool for summer fun. She also often took the children to the family farm to play with cousins and visit their great aunts and uncles.

Between raising her own children and spoiling her three grandchildren, she found time to learn the ceramics trade by working at a local ceramics shop. The job turned into a catalyst for a budding ceramic shop of her own. Shirley made and sold ceramics for many years, taking many trips out of the state for raw materials and to make deliveries. Family and friends had a lot of fun times making ceramics with Shirl and many still have and cherish those precious treasures from their time with Shirl.

During the years she was growing her business, her middle child, Cindy, developed a disease that eventually pulled Shirl’s time away from the business and toward retirement to be a full-time caregiver. Shirley was an amazing caregiver and able to keep the doctors on their toes.

In their retirement, Shirl and Bob had many journeys to the casinos. It was one of their favorite pastimes and a great way to get out of the house and meet interesting people.

Shirley is survived by her husband, Robert (Bob) Hanson; children: Debby Hanson, and David (Sue) Hanson; her three grandchildren: Amie (Mathew) Sittenauer, Jeremy Gunderson and Emily Hanson; great-granddaughter, Tabitha Gilles; her loving siblings: Louise Feuling, Janice (Porky) Symiczek, Aaron Kotlarz Jr, Susan Gunderson; and half- sister, Sandy (Francis) Rotering.

Shirl was predeceased by her daughter, Cindy Gunderson; her parents, Marian and Aaron Kotlarz Sr.; her grandparents: Florence and Joseph Kowhal-Ressel and Mike and Anna Motszko-Kotlarz; mother-in-law, Helen Hanson; and half-brothers: Jim and Tim Andre.

A visitation was held Tuesday, July 2, 2024, from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., at Edison Funeral Home, followed by a graveside service at Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic Cemetery. To leave an online condolence for her family, please visit

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