Connor T. Hansen (1913-1987)
Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice (1967-1980)
"I remember his ever-present bow tie, his love of growing roses and herbs, and his affection for the common man. As a Sibelius symphony, Connor's strength grew out of the earth, in his case the populist soil of Wisconsin. He was a good judge." - Judge Thomas H. Barland, Hansen's memorial service (1988)
Connor Theodore Hansen was born on November 1, 1913, in Freeman, South Dakota. In 1934, he graduated from the Eau Claire State Teachers College, now the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He earned his law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1937.
In 1938, Hansen was elected district attorney of Eau Claire County and served until 1943. During World War II, he was a special agent in the FBI. After the war, Hansen returned to private practice in Eau Claire and was elected to the Eau Claire County Board, where he served from 1947 to 1957. He ran unsuccessfully as the Republican candidate for U.S. Congress in 1948.
Judge Thomas H. Barland said at Hansen's memorial service: "Congress beckoned in 1948, but that proved to be one of his few unsuccessful political efforts. He would not have been happy in Congress...his Wisconsin and Eau Claire roots were too deep."
Governor Vernon W. Thompson appointed Hansen to the Eau Claire county court in 1958. He was reputed for his work in juvenile court and his efforts to help high school dropouts.
In 1967, Governor Warren P. Knowles appointed Hansen to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, making him the first justice appointed directly from county court and the first justice from Eau Claire County. Hansen was elected to a full term on the Supreme Court in 1970.
Controversy arose in 1973 when Hansen was elected to the Lake Mills City Council. Critics argued that the Wisconsin Constitution makes it illegal for judges to hold other political offices. A week after the city council election, Hansen declined the position.
At the end of his term, Hansen did not seek re-election. Because of the mandatory retirement age then in effect, he could not finish another full term and he did not want the governor to appoint his replacement. He retired in 1980.
Hansen was married to Annette Phillips Ferry. They had four children: Annette, Peter, David and Jane. He died on August 21, 1987.