Councilmember Clark left office on April 14, 2015.
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Robert Hansen, 1959-2010

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Many of us knew Robert Hansen, but many people still don’t know that he passed away at the end of last month.  Robert was one of the most recognized and most-welcome of Real Change vendors around town.  He could be seen either Downtown here near City Hall, usually on the Forth and Cherry corner of the Columbia Tower, or outside the Seward Park PCC.  To be honest it took me a long time, several years really, before I started saying hello to Robert and buying my copy of Real Change from him. I’m not sure why. He seemed a little gruff, and I was probably unduly nervous about talking up this street corner regular.

Then it just became ridiculous.  I was seeing him every day either at Fourth and Cherry or at PCC. We clearly both recognized each other. I finally just started saying hi and buying the paper from time to time. Then we’d start talking longer.  Usually about the Huskies or the Seahawks, less frequently about politics.  He was always on top of the latest in the teams’ progress and the roster changes.  One thing people may not know is that Robert was really good at advising on flower bouquets.  The Seward Park PCC keeps their flowers out to the side of the door and Robert would help me out if I was picking up flowers.  He was really good at it, too.  I would be reaching for something and he’d lean in and point out a different bunch that, on review, was clearly superior in color make-up.

The memorial on Real Change’s website notes that Robert helped to sort out conflicts between vendors. He had a knack for this, too. There was a new guy working the PCC one day who apparently didn’t know Robert and was new to the Real Change system.  He was maybe a little negative in his salesmanship and a couple of the storekeepers were noticing him, but not in a good way.  I saw Robert take him aside and firmly explain to the guy the balance involved in being a successful Real Change vendor in a super small business district.

In the past year Robert proudly arrived for his selling stints at PCC in a new-to-him pick-up truck.  He was psyched when he got it.

I’ve been sick with pneumonia (“community acquired” is my new favorite term) or bronchitis for approximately a month now.  When stuck at home I’ve switched between bed, the couch and chairs depending upon the time of day. I walk back and forth from the kitchen to make more and more tea. I have a humidifier, my own bathroom, and a washer and dryer downstairs. I get paid when I’m on bed rest.

Robert apparently died in his truck down on Sixth Avenue South near Massachusetts Street on Thursday, April 28. He’d been discharged the day before from the hospital with orders of seven days bed rest. I don’t know if he had offers of places to go or an opportunity for a respite bed in one of the shelters. I do know we need more respite beds for homeless people leaving hospital care. Ironically, temporary respite care for homeless people discharged from hospitals is one of the things I’ve been researching this year and would like to expand. We clearly need more beds whether Robert was in need of one or not.

A memorial for Robert will be held this Friday at 1 p.m. at City Hall Plaza.


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Comment from vic roberson
Time May 12, 2010 at 9:09 pm


I am sorry to hear that Robert passed alone and in his truck. I have talked to him many times over the past five or more years. He was kind, gentle and warm hearted. he often talked of his girlfriend and his kids. i will miss him

vic roberson

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