Awards & Honors

Charles and Cheryl Hanson honored with Iverson Freking Ecumenical Recognition Awards

Two extraordinary couples were honored Wednesday morning with the 2020 Iverson Freking Ecumenical Recognition Awards, selected for their compassion and dedication to the people of the Coulee Region.

Charles and Cheryl Hanson and John and Linda Lyche received the prestigious award during a ceremony at Bethany St. Joseph Corp.’s Care Center, and will be further celebrated during the Iverson Freking awards banquet Jan. 22 at the Radisson Center.

This is the 34th year for the Iverson Freking Awards, named for Bethany St. Joseph co-founders, the late Carl Iverson, a Lutheran, and the late Bishop Frederick Freking, who led the Catholic Diocese of La Crosse from 1965 to 1983.

The award was created to recognize local people who have committed to fostering and promoting ecumenical endeavors for the betterment of the community. In past years they have been given to reverends, business owners, nuns, doctors, teachers and rabbis. Nominations are accepted from community members and selected by a seven person selection committee, the members of which rotate annually.

“It’s a recognition of faith-filled people of action because of all they do for the community,” said Gale Bruessel, assistant to the executive director of the BSJ Corp.

portrait of man and woman
Charles and Cheryl Hanson

Charles and Cheryl are similarly civic minded, attorney Charles the founder of the La Crosse Rotary Foundation and the Freedom Honor Flight and Cheryl, retired CESA4 director of Washburn Academy, involved in the League of Women Voters, The Pump House Regional Arts Center, and American Association of University Women. Both also have taken up global causes, facilitating relationships with four of La Crosse’s sister cities through Friendship Associations, helping provide food and medicine to Dubna, Russia with Hands Across the Heartland and playing a key role in the creation of the Riverside International Friendship Gardens. The couple share a deep faith, attending First Congregational United Church of Christ. The church espouses acceptance, as do the Hansons.

“We respect others’ differences, recognizing there is beauty everywhere. We have common shared interests and can build on that. We can build a better world for everyone,” Charles says.

Previous notable endeavors of the Hansons include Cheryl’s work with youth apprenticeship programs and teacher-to-teacher mentorship, as well as eight years as La Crosse County Board supervisor and 10 years on the Bethany St. Joseph Corporation Board. Charles played a key role in the creation of the Kids Coulee playground and a brain development book distributed to new parents through the La Crosse Kids Committee.

The Hansons, much like the Lyches, were raised in families where aiding others was second nature, and altruism remains a way of life.

“Service is not something you get out of a book,” Charles says. “It’s something you learn by observing and then doing.”

By Emily Pyrek, excerpt courtesy of the La Crosse Tribune.

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