Hon. Dean Hansell 2020 Honored Alumnus

The 2020 Salem High School Alumni Association’s Honored Alumnus, Superior Court Judge Dean Hansell, Class of 1970, has fond memories from his high school years. His list of extracurricular activities includes the co-editing of the Quaker newspaper, becoming an Eagle Scout, and attending Buckeye Boys’ State. But he says that it was two teachers and a staff member that he remembers the most.

“Although I realized quickly that a career as a physicist was not for me, Herb Jones taught me the value of humor to teach topics, sometimes complex ones. He was able to paint word pictures about concepts such as gravity and friction that remain with me to this day.” Hansell went on to relate that it was English teacher Jan Denman who taught him the importance of showing love and enthusiasm for his chosen profession as he “molded the staff of the Quaker into a tightly knit, fully engaged team.”

A story told to Dean in 10th grade by a bus driver and substitute teacher Alton “Pappy” Allen was a life lesson that stuck in his mind. Hansell credits it for inspiring his philanthropic nature and the development of the Dean Hansell Training Scholarship, now available through the Sustainable Opportunity Development Center in Salem for education funding to expand employment opportunities. “Mr. Allen was extremely bright and articulate. He told us that he was headed to college and then on to medical school when his father, a farmer, called to tell him that the ‘well’s gone dry’ and that he needed to come home from school and help on the farm. Had he had the resources to continue his education, he might have been able to continue his education and become a successful doctor.”

Receiving the Honored Alumnus was a bit different in 2020 because of Covid-19 and Dean was unable to address the Class of 2020 directly, but he wrote an impressive letter that was posted on the SHSAA website (Read Letter). He encouraged SHS graduates to remember that they are “Salem-strong” and that “you can accomplish anything you set your mind to doing. It will be hard work and may require more years of study and training, but you can do it!”

Hansell says that he has received various awards throughout the years, but none of them mean as much as the Honored Alumnus recognition. “This is an honor from my peers, from the people I grew up with. My Uncle Herb Hansell was named the 1982 Honored Alumnus for his work in international diplomacy and I am pleased to follow in his footsteps.” He goes on saying, “To be in the company of others recognized before me like Lou Slaby, Max Fisher, and of course, the first Honored Alumnus in 1958, F. E. Cope, is such an honor. I am privileged to have grown up in Salem, Ohio, and to attend Salem High School. My ability to relate to people I meet throughout the world, and my interest and confidence in problem-solving I attribute to SHS with its can-do attitude, and I also think it’s because of the diverse group of classmates who remain my friends today. I am grateful for everything I learned at SHS, and I am delighted to be named the 2020 SHS Honored Alumnus.”

Hansell was invited to return to Salem in 2021 to receive this recognition at the SHSAA’s Scholarship Award Ceremony. He, along with the 2021 Honored Alumnus, Larry A. Davis, presented words of wisdom to the graduating seniors on Saturday evening, May 22, 2021, in the high school auditorium.