Charles Christian Hansen III
Last updated 10/25/2023 at 3:05pm | View PDF
Charles Christian Hansen III, 100, passed away peacefully Oct. 10, 2023, surrounded by family members.
A Hinsdale resident with his family for 50 years, "Chuck" was a talented mechanical engineer, inventor and serial entrepreneur.
He was the first born son of second-generation Danish and German immigrants, Charles C. Hansen Jr. and Emily Ebert Hansen. His Lutheran schooling was interrupted in fifth grade by the crucible of spending one year bedridden in a body cast, followed by an additional year on crutches. High academic achievement followed. He graduated first in his class at Proviso High School and went on to be valedictorian at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. He received a master's degree in mechanical engineering from MIT and a master's in business administration from the University of Chicago.
During Chuck's time at Cornell, the country went to war. His school was became an officer training school under the U.S. Navy's V12 program. When he graduated, he was both an engineer and an ensign. He proudly served his country as a decorated officer during World War II.
He then began a long business career in industrial refrigeration. After working at several positions in the field, he acquired Refrigerating Specialties, the family business founded by his grandfather. Under Chuck's leadership "RS" grew nearly 20 fold, introduced a wave of new products and expanded into international markets. He eventually sold the business to Parker Hannifin, a Fortune 500 company, where he became a group vice president.
His entrepreneurial instincts proved difficult to suppress. He left Parker Hannifin after several years to start a small industrial refrigeration enterprise called Hansen Technologies. There he leveraged the talents of key employees to innovate, expand into new markets and grow rapidly. The company that started in one of his children's old bedrooms became a formidable international competitor. Hansen Technologies was eventually sold to Roper Industries, another Fortune 500 company.
Chuck continued to innovate and eventually formed another company, Hantemp Controls, at the age of 90. There Chuck invented and produced some of his most imaginative refrigeration products. It's now owned by a group of key employees.
During his long career, Chuck built, founded and sold six companies and was awarded more than 25 patents.
He contributed more than businesses and products to his chosen field. He was a founding member of the Chicago chapter of the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers and he and several colleagues founded the International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration.
A lifelong believer in the transformative power of education, Chuck personally funded the higher education of his children, grandchildren and other family members. His companies offered generous tuition incentives to employees, thereby funding the schooling of scores more. In addition, his endowment to MIT fully funded a perpetual fellowship in thermodynamics.
Chuck was preceded in death by his wife, Joan Gunning Hansen; and his brother, Sherwood Hansen.
He is survived by his sister, Yvonne Hansen; his children, Bruce (Sharon) Hansen, Brian Hansen, Holly (Richard) Hetke, Christiane (Dale) Shepherd and Pamela (John) Pierce; his grandchildren, Bliss (Trip) Finnegan, Harmony Ryan, Tara Hansen, Broughton Hansen, Greer (Lawrence) Martin, Charles and Allison Hetke, Devin, Madeleine and Owen (Michaela) Shepherd and Samantha and Jack Pierce; his great-grandchildren, A.J. and Mairin Finnegan, Shayla and Brennan Ryan and Emma and Amani Martin; and many nieces, nephews, and grand-nieces and -nephews.
Visitation is at 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 17, at St. John's Lutheran Church, 505 S. Park Road, La Grange. A service will follow at the church at noon. A celebration of Chuck's life for family and friends will follow the service.
Interment will be private at Bronswood Cemetery in Oak Brook.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made online to Doctors Without Borders at http://www.donate.doctorswithoutborders.org.
Sullivan Funeral Home in Hinsdale handled the arrangements.