Charles Gordon Hansen died Tuesday November 28th, 2017 at Boulder Community Hospital after years of declining health following an accident in September, 2006. Charlie was born April 16, 1956 in Livermore, California to Calvin Forrest and Bonnie Clay Hansen, the third of four children. Bonnie, a psychologist, used to describe Charlie as the most sensitive and the most demanding of her children. Charlie showed his brilliance and competitive nature as a child, teaching himself to read at age 3 to keep up with his older sister and brother. In 1957 the family moved to Bountiful, Utah for three years, then to Berkeley, California, from 1960-1965, where Cal worked at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory. Charlie regarded his Berkeley years as significant in his life and listed “Berkeley” as his home town when he had a Facebook page. The Hansens next moved to Davis, California for five years, 1965-1970, then to Newport News, Virginia from 1970-78, where Charlie went to high school. Charlie moved to Boulder in January, 1978 to attend the University of Colorado, from which he graduated with honors in 1981, majoring in physics. Boulder became his home thereafter.
Charlie loved music from childhood on, and played electric guitar in bands, inspired by the genius of Jimi Hendrix (his favorite musician). Charlie was a huge Beatles fan to the degree that, even in elementary school, he mocked his sister’s admiration for any other ‘60s group. His keen sense of hearing could distinguish sixteenth intervals in music, and became even more sensitive with practice in later years. Taking after his electrical engineer father, Charlie’s passion was electronics, particularly audio systems.
Charlie and Robert Thorne (formerly Bob Grupp) co-founded Avalon Acoustics, building speaker systems (https://www.stereophile.com/interviews/610/index.html). Charlie sold his interest in Avalon in 1992 and took a one year sabbatical. He then co-founded Ayre Acoustics with Katie Lehr and Peter Bohacek, specializing in amplifiers and digital players. His designs were highly regarded in the audiophile community. He was quick to acknowledge that if he saw further than others it was only because he stood on the shoulders of giants. In particular, he publically recognized the influence John Curl had on his designs. Charlie was resolute in his goal to manufacture products of quality beyond what his customers might notice. His ethic was to “treat the customer the way that we would want to be treated if the situation were reversed”. He also committed to paying his employees a livable wage, including full health benefits. In the last few years he helped design Neil Young’s portable Pono player. When Neil Young referred to Charlie as a genius in a Stereophile magazine, his sister responded, “Yeah, and how annoying and what a pain it was to put up with a genius who thought he was always right!”
Like his father Cal, Charlie was interested in fast cars, and guided Cal in the purchase of his first Porsche in 1973. Cal later joined the Porsche Club, and when Cal could not compete after someone crashed into his 914, Charlie infamously entered his VW Rabbit in a Porsche Club rally, insisting the two types of cars were both manufactured with German engineering. With his skilled driving, Charlie won! A highlight of Charlie’s life was taking his father with him to Germany and touring the Porsche factory in person.
Charlie loved bicycling and raced during his 20s, competing against Andy Hampsten, Davis Phinney, Ron Kiefel and many others. He was an alternate on the US National team until he broke his femur at a 1982 race in Columbia. He was athletic and in good health until he was hit head-on by a motorcycle while bicycling down Left Hand Canyon in September, 2006. He nearly lost his life, suffering two punctured lungs, about 30 broken bones, and multiple crushed vertebrae. The latter injury compressed his spinal cord and caused paralysis in his lower body. With great perseverance of spirit, Charlie continued on with his creative work despite physical limitations, constant pain, and multiple hospitalizations. One outcome of his efforts to find healing was the establishment of a hyperbaric oxygen treatment facility in Boulder.
Charlie was an outdoor enthusiast and loved backpacking, hiking and river trips. One of his favorite trips was a month-long Grand Canyon rafting trip with his brother Matt, sister-in- law Dawn and friends. His love of nature was deepened after attending classes at The Tracker School and gaining wisdom from Native American teachings. He befriended Tom Brown, Jr. and was illuminated by experience in dimensions beyond the physical, touching his Eternal nature. Although Charlie sought new research into recovery from spinal injury, he knew that he was more than just his physical body.
Charlie became involved in personal development Landmark courses during the 1990s, and convinced his parents to also participate as he found the courses so insightful. In 1992 he met Colleen Krauch through Landmark, and they married on August 1, 1993 in an outdoor ceremony on Flagstaff Mountain. They had two children, Ella (born Cooper) in 1996 and Carter in 1999. Charlie was more passionate about his children than anything or anyone else. Charlie believed in individually tailored education and sent his children to Waldorf schools, K-12. After his accident, Charlie was determined to live long enough to see both children graduate from Tara Performing Arts School. His children are musically gifted and Charlie thrilled to listen to violin and guitar performances in his living room.
Charlie was predeceased by his parents Cal and Bonnie, and infant nephew Raymond Bui Hansen. He is survived by his two children (both of Boulder), sister Janet Adair Hansen (Cortland, New York), brothers Clay Forrest Hansen (Lafayette) and Earl Matthew Hansen (Logan, Utah; sister-in- law Dawn), nieces Adaire and Angela Thompson (both of New York City) and Libby Hansen (Logan), nephews Joshua Heggarty (Santa Cruz, California) and Eric Hansen (Lafayette), as well as his former wife Colleen (Paonia, Colorado).
A Celebration of Charlie’s Life will be held in the spring of 2018. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts in the name of Charles G. Hansen may be donated to: Friends of the Earth, P O Box 96466, Washington D.C. 20090-6466 or the “Spinal Cord Regeneration Program” run by Dr. Stephen Davies in Australia, https://www.florey.edu.au/donations.