Mildred B. Hanson, language teacher

November 1, 2012
Mildred B. Hanson
Language teacher

Mildred B. Hanson, 92, a Scandinavian languages instructor who worked for the U.S. government for over 20 years and helped found the Swedish School in Falls Church, a Saturday morning language school for adults, died Oct. 22 at Inova Fairfax Hospital.

She had a heart attack, said her daughter, Ingrid Butler.

Mildred Irene Bernsten was born in Seoul to Salvation Army missionaries from Sweden. She moved to Sweden with her family when she was 11 and worked at the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm before immigrating to the United States during World War II.

She became a naturalized U.S. citizen in the 1940s and accompanied her husband, a U.S. Foreign Service officer, on assignments in Ghana and Finland.

The Swedish School for Adults opened in Bethesda in 1971, according to the organization’s Web site, and later moved to Virginia. Mrs. Hanson was the school’s principal early in its existence. She retired from her teaching job with the federal government in the mid-1980s, her daughter said.

Her memberships included the Swedish women’s organization SVEA, the Swedish-American Cultural Union and the Vasa Order of America, a Scandinavian American fraternal society. She was a past president of the American Scandinavian Association and received a medal from the king of Sweden for her leadership in the Swedish American community, her daughter said.

Mrs. Hanson also did volunteer work with the National Symphony Orchestra. She was a longtime Bethesda resident before moving to Fairfax County in the 1980s. She had lived at the Greenspring retirement center in Springfield for the past decade.

Survivors include her husband of 68 years, Henry Hanson of Springfield; two children, Rolf Hanson of Leesburg and Ingrid Butler of Alexandria; two sisters, Verna Finly of Springfield and Margarita Couraud of Paris; and four grandchildren.

— Emily Langer

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