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Posted on October 24, 2015 | 3:27 p.m.

Capt. Jack Hansen of Morro Bay

Capt. Jack Hansen was a commercial fisherman for 76 years, 55 of them as skipper of The Darlene.
Capt. Jack Hansen was a commercial fisherman for 76 years, 55 of them as skipper of The Darlene. (Hansen family photo)

Source: Hansen Family

Captain Jack Hansen, 85, a long-time Morro Bay commercial fisherman, crossed the bar peacefully on August 22, 2015, at the home of his daughter, of whom his cherished boat, “The Darlene,” built with his own hands, was named after. At his side, of course, was his beloved cat and best friend, Morris.

While fisherman and friends cheered him on, Jack regretfully left his boat for the last time just days ago, refusing assistance and stating, “By God, I’ve done it all these years, I can do it one more time!”

As he was leaving, he placed his hands on the stern, and expressed gratitude for his boat aloud, “Thanks for the wonderful life, providing for my family and keeping them safe.”

From a wheelchair, on a final trip up the boat ramp, and supported by his friends, he said, “Goodbye. I’ll miss you all. I enjoyed my good life.” 

Jack was born in Seattle, Washington, and grew up mostly in Ballard, Washington, as the son of Captain John Hansen, a commercial fisherman and pioneer who was instrumental in building the West Coast commercial fishing industry. His father was a Danish boat builder, and built nearly 100 fishing boats.

When Jack was young, he enjoyed living at La Push, Washington, a Quiluete Indian reservation, where his father bought a scow for $50, converted the upstairs into a grocery store for fishermen and home. He bought fish in La Push, sold the fish in Seattle.

After a few years, Jack’s father sold the scow and returned to his boatyard in Seattle. Life was not easy for Jack, losing his mother, Hazel, a talented musician and teacher, when he was 9 years old. Jack and his brother, Howard, lived on a houseboat in Ballard, cared for themselves as their father fished and built boats.

As Jack grew up, he attended school (he excelled in sports), and fished with his father, building boats in the off-season. Jack and his father eventually moved to Southern California, continued fishing and built fishing boats before settling in beautiful Morro Bay.

Captain Jack had been a commercial fisherman for 76 years. He fished on “The Darlene” for 55 years from Vancouver Island down to Mexico, and as far out as 200 miles offshore. He only recently announced he’d be taking, “One more fishing trip!”

His sons, Ron and John, fished with him through the years and spent many hours helping him care for the boat. He was proud of his sons: “They’re great sons and excellent fishermen!”

The words of a fellow fisherman, “Captain Jack was considered a tribal elder to the fisherman of Morro Bay.”

Captain Jack’s memory and wit were sharp to the end, always joking, telling his stories and freely giving advice (whether wanted or not). A gifted writer, he was thrilled to recently discover his tales and fishing adventures are being published.

He leaves behind his beloved brother, Howard Hansen, 90, gifted artist, teacher, Quileute tribal elder in Seattle, Washington (Joanne). Cousin: Ingeborg Hansen, 97, of Copenhagen, Denmark. Four children whom he loved dearly and leaves his legacy of a love for the sea: Darlene/Dudes, Ron (Nicole), Karen (Jim) and Johnny (Veronica). Grandchildren include Heidi (Mike), Jack (Patti), John, Serge, Breana, Shaun (Ashley), Nick, Grant, Brittany, Will, Christopher, Alyssa and Hazel. Grea-grandchildren include Carson, Kara-Skye, Savannah, Kayla, Zane, Landen, Isabella, Colin, Caden and Lily.

He has many special lifetime friends: Dick Sears, Vina, Bobby Austin, Kenny Butler, Gus Janguard, Joe Chartier, Dickie & Trudy, Eddie and so many more.

Thanks to all of his treasured friends who’ve helped him out, checking up on him on the boat, visiting with him and Morris: Bob M., Larry, Tammy & Walker, Fred, Dave, Pete, Neil, Andy, Billy, Jeff, Eddie, Tony, Darrell, Brad, Tina, just to mention a few. Also the commercial fishing Fleet was so very dear to his heart and an important part of his life.

A special thank you to the staff at Dignity Hospice Care for the remarkable care, compassion, and going the extra mile to help Captain Jack remain on “The Darlene” and pass with comfort, peace and dignity. In keeping with the wishes of Jack, there will be no funeral service. A family memorial service will be held at a later date.

“It’s been quite a ride, now I wish I had fished tougher weather. As this part of the trip is no fun at all. I love the boat, it was so good to me. I love you all, don’t feel bad about me, OK. Scatter my ashes in the ocean at San Simeon. I love that place, so peaceful. I’m 85, what the hell, you guys take care. Just make sure I’m really dead before they cremate me.”

If you wish to make a donation: Central Coast Women for Fisheries Inc. (Attn: Heritage Scholarships) 785 Quintana Road, No. 106, Morro Bay 93442; Dignity Hospice Care, 124 S. College Ave., Santa Maria 93454; Woods Humane Society, 875 Oklahoma Ave., San Luis Obispo 93405; or any favorite charity.

The Darlene, named for Capt. Jack Hansen’s daughter, was based in Morro Bay and ranged from Vancouver Island to Mexico.
The Darlene, named for Capt. Jack Hansen’s daughter, was based in Morro Bay and ranged from Vancouver Island to Mexico. (Hansen family photos)

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