Della Darlene Hanser, 86, of Spring Hill, KS, passed away March 1, 2011 at Wellsville Retirement Community.  Darlene was born July 6, 1924 in Spring Hill, KS to Arthur Samuel and Della Makadanz Meek. She was one of six children. Darlene’s early childhood was on the Meek farm west of Spring Hill that had been owned by the Meek family since 1867. Her early memories were filled with stories of growing up during the Great Depression. She and her family lived by the same “waste-not, want-not” thriftiness learned by many Americans of Darlene’s “Greatest Generation.” She was a lifelong resident of Spring Hill. Following graduation from Spring Hill High School, she worked during WWII at Olathe Naval Air station (now known as New Century Air Center). In the summer of 1946 she met handsome army veteran Carl Hanser, who had just returned from serving in Europe during WWII. As God’s luck would provide, Carl had taken a temporary job at the Air Station before he resumed dairy farming. One day at work, Darlene’s eyes met Carl’s…and as they say…the rest was history. Darlene married Carl Ellis Hanser March 1947. They enjoyed a wonderful life together during almost 42 years of marriage—dances, card parties and many good times with friends and family. Growing things and farming was at the heart of it all. Darlene was very good at it! Her children, Carol, Ron and Kay, think they are the most important things she grew. They are all now married, with extended families, including six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. Darlene’s garden was highly productive! A cellar full of potatoes and shelves full of canned vegetables from her ¼ acre plot provided food for the family all winter. The strawberry patch, and orchard with apple and cherry trees, produced fruit for delicious pies, jams and jellies. Darlene and Carl began farming on land rented west of Olathe; they purchased a dairy farm and moved south of Olathe in 1950. They eventually dairied and farmed on more than 700 acres. Carol, Ron and Kay were expected to contribute to the productivity of the family, and learned all about hard work from their parents. Darlene knew that his hard work was “character-building” and would serve her children well in the future. She was right, as always.
Darlene shared her talents with many adults and youth. She was active as a 4-H club project leader and member of Spring Hill United Methodist Church, United Methodist Women, Morning Grange, Spring Hill Family and Community Education, and Cheer Um Up club. Darlene always made time for smiles and laughter with family, friends and farm neighbors. Even today, Darlene’s loved ones recall her cooking, and the ribbons she won at the Johnson county Fair- proof of Darlene’s many talents.
Her grandchildren’s most precious memories of their grandma include: helping her dig potatoes and do other gardening; listening to the birds singing outside her kitchen window; her delicious raisin-bar cookies; hot breakfast when family came to visit or the grandkids spent the night; dinner-plate sized pancakes; and the ever-present Butterscotch candy jar on the television (Yes, you could eat the candy). And, on Halloween, Darlene always served homemade donuts—warm and fresh-glazed-to “trick-or-treating” children who came to the farm. And, when Darlene wasn’t cooking, her grandkids also have fond memories of being treated to dinner at the old Dari-Anne in Spring Hill.Even after Carl’s passing in 1989; Darlene continued to live alone on the farm at Olathe. Her 80th birthday party, at the Morning Grange Hall in July 2004, was one of the highlights of her life. It was planned by her children, and attended by nearly 100 friends and family. In later years, due to Darlene’s dementia, she moved from the farm to live with her daughter Carol and then to retirement communities/nursing homes in Olathe and Wellsville until she passed away comfortably on March 1, 2011.   Darlene was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, brothers: Ernest Meek, Arthur S. Meek, Jr., and Kenneth Meek. She is survived by three children: Carol (Hanser) Bollin, Spring Hill, KS, Ron Hanser, Des Moines, IA and Kay(Hanser) Lowrie, Spring Hill,KS; siblings: Samuel Meek of the Philippines and Doris (Meek) Skinner, Bucyrus, KS; six grandchildren and two step-grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren. Memories of Darlene—as mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister, friend, and caring neighbor—will live forever.
Funeral service will be 10:00 am Mon., March 7, 2011 at Bruce Funeral Home, 712 S Webster, Spring Hill, KS (913) 592-2244. Burial follows at Oak Lawn Memorial Gardens, Olathe, KS. Visitation at the funeral home 2:00-4:00 pm Sun., March 6, 2011. Memorial contributions may be made to Spring Hill United Methodist Church. Condolences may be sent to www.brucefuneralhome.com.