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ani, glitter

Her Sorority Sister Was Born in June 1907 and Was a Rose Festival Fan

I'd like to share the story of Alida Hansen, a sweet lady who was born Alida Florence Swensson in Portland on June 7, 1907. She passed away in Portland on January 12, 2005, at the age of 97.

A homemaker, Alida moved to Los Angeles in 1921, and married Alvin Hansen in 1939. He passed away in 1976, and at the invitation of her niece, Beverly McCallister, Alida returned to Portland in 1981.

Alida's niece Beverly was a member of a business women's organization called Alpha Iota Sorority (www.alphaiota.org), and April 11, 1991, Alida became a member of the Portland Alumnae Chapter at the age of 83.

Alida attended the chapter's meetings and social events regularly. She served as Chaplain and Marshal of Portland Alumnae, and was on the telephone committee for many years. When asked why Alpha Iota was an important part of her life, Alida replied, "It is so important to exchange experiences and catch up on each other's daily life."

Alida was the most upbeat, positive person you would ever want to know -- and I think that was a big reason why she lived to be almost 98. She had a solid memory of the many things that happened in her life, including the 14 (or so) years she lived in Portland as a young girl.

Alida would talk about things like the influenza epidemic, the lighting of the street lamps and the fact she was rarely ever sick. She said that by putting Vaseline just inside her nose, she never got a cold. When she spoke about the old days, she mentioned her visits to the Oregon coast. She'd ride a boat to Astoria, and the stagecoach to Seaside.

Alida was very proud of the fact that she was born in the first month of the first ever Portland Festival. I've often thought it would have been so wonderful for Alida if she could have reached her 100th birthday and been honored by the Rose Festival Association during their centennial celebration -- maybe even have been asked to ride on a float.

You couldn't help but love Alida when you were around her. Up until she was about 90, she still drove her own car and was a member of a bowling league. A fall and broken shoulder put a crimp in her style, but she always kept a positive outlook on life and valued her friends and family.

Alida lived independently in a duplex next door to her niece Beverly in Southeast Portland just off Powell Boulevard until the last couple years of her life. Then she moved into a retirement community on Holgate Boulevard.

She was a very caring person. When four of us visited her the week after Christmas, she gave us one last precious gift from her heart -- and we knew it was very important for her to give it. She wished all her sorority friends -- and everyone -- a healthy and very Happy New Year! It was the last time many of us saw her.

Her niece Beverly McCallister passed away at the age of 70 on April 27, 2004. Beverly's two daughters Jeannine Lester and Connie Moore live in the Portland area (Alida's great nieces).

Alida with great niece Connie Moore

This is a picture of Alida taken May 15, 2004 -- at our sorority Mother-Daughter Luncheon held at Suzanne's at Beaumont Village. The woman beside Alida is her great niece Connie Moore, Jeannine's sister.

~Susie Horton (Advisor and Secretary, Portland Alumnae Chapter of Alpha Iota Sorority)