Watch CBS News

Former Chicago Ald. Bernard Hansen, Who Represented Lakeview From 1983 To 2002, Dies At 76

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Former Chicago Ald. Bernard Hansen has died at the age of 76.

Hansen served as alderman of the 44th Ward – which covers a large part of the Lakeview community area – from 1983 until 2002.

He was elected upon the retirement of incumbent John Merlo in the same election that brought Harold Washington to the Mayor's office. Hansen initially allied with the opposition bloc of 29 aldermen led by Ed Vrdolyak, but went on to endorse Mayor Washington for reelection in 1987.

In his time as alderman with Washington, Eugene Sawyer, and finally Richard M. Daley in the Mayor's office, Hansen became known in particular as an advocate for environmental concerns and recycling. In 1993, as noted by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, the City Council approved an ordinance sponsored by Hansen and Ald. Ed Burke (14th) to guarantee recycling opportunities to all residents and businesses.

Hansen also sponsored city ordinances to fund private-sector recycling, and to extend a moratorium on landfills in Chicago, the Fishery Commission noted.

Hansen was also known for his advocacy for human rights and LGBTQ rights. He was a co-sponsor along with Ald. Cliff Kelley of the Human Rights Ordinance to protect gay, lesbian, and disabled people from discrimination. The ordinance was approved in 1988.

Hansen was further known as a champion for advocacy for those with HIV/AIDS, as he talked about in the Windy City Times in 2002.

Hansen retired from the City Council that same year, and Tom Tunney was first appointed by Mayor Daley, and then elected to Hansen's former seat. Tunney also became Chicago's first openly gay alderman.

Tunney remembered Hansen on Monday as someone who "He oversaw transformational changes in our neighborhood and helped build the thriving community we share today."

Very sad to announce the passing of former 44th Ward Alderman Bernie Hansen yesterday. Bernie served as Alderman from...

Posted by Tom Tunney on Monday, July 19, 2021

Mayor Lori Lightfoot memorialized Hansen as a "true public servant."

"A champion for the 44th Ward & our city's LGBTQ+ community, Bernie spent nearly 2 decades serving the City Council working tirelessly to serve his constituents while taking a strong stance for human rights. His work undoubtedly made our city a better place," the mayor tweeted. "May he rest in peace."

U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Illinois) began his political career as an aide in Ald. Hansen's office. He posted a thread of tweets about Hansen late on Sunday.

"Bernie was a tireless advocate for the constituents he represented. No one was better at getting things done than Bernie, and the communities he served were better for it. He taught me that public service is what we each owe our communities. Bernie taught me that policy only matters when it works at the street level. He spent every day trying to improve the lives of his neighbors," Quigley wrote. "I know that without Bernie's help and advice, I wouldn't be where I am today. For that and so many other reasons, I am deeply sad to learn of his passing. He will be missed."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.