Ready to retire: Hansen to leave attorney's post in Osceola County

SIBLEY, Iowa -- Attorney Bob Hansen has wore a suit and coat through thousands of cases for 32 years. He has been an attorney for Osceola County, but those days will soon be over with his approaching retirement on July 21.

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Osceola County Attorney Bob Hansen sits in his office Friday morning. (Martina Baca / The Globe)

SIBLEY, Iowa - Attorney Bob Hansen has wore a suit and coat through thousands of cases for 32 years. He has been an attorney for Osceola County, but those days will soon be over with his approaching retirement on July 21.  


As is often the case, retirement has a bittersweet taste for Hansen. He’ll be able to do what he enjoys most - spend time with his family - but at the same time is leaving behind a part of who he has been for many years.


Hansen found his passion for law while working in a beef packing plant. As manager, people would frequently approach Hansen seeking advice. One day, he realized he could actually make a living at that.  



“People were always asking my advice for all kind of things, so I got a lot of compliments for helping people out,” he said. “That started making me think that maybe I could go to school and become an attorney and get paid for giving advice.”


After graduating from law school in 1985, Hansen gave private practice a try. That only lasted two years.


“I couldn't sleep at night because I couldn’t leave my clients’ problems at the office,” he said.
“It was during the farm crisis, so I had a lot of clients farmers that essentially bankrupted. So I thought, ‘Well, I would try something else with my law degree.’”


Hansen then became a prosecuting attorney in Fort Dodge, Iowa, where he gained experience from cases ranging from seat-belt violations to first-degree murders. He noted that one of his most memorable cases happened in Fort Dodge, when he was able to put a longtime drug dealers in jail.



“The evidence got lost by the police and the money that was found was miscount, but the guy was sent to prison for a long time,” Hansen said. “After the trial, the judge told me … (there are probably) 10 prosecutors in the state that would have taken that case… and then he became a big supporter of mine.”


After years of working in Fort Dodge, Hansen said he and his wife decided they wanted to raise her two daughters somewhere else. That’s when he applied to be a part of the Osceola County judicial system.


While working for Osceola County, Hansen also worked part-time for O’Brien County, Iowa, which meant working weekends and sacrifice family time.


“I worked a lot of hours and I did miss out (things),” he said. “Before starting that, I would wake up in the morning and made them (kids) breakfast before they went to school ... but when I started at O'Brien County I was at the office at 6:30 a.m.”



Hansen, though, said there were always certain school events that were untouchable.  


“They got to participate in whatever they wanted, like band and athletics, so when they were doing those kind of activities I don't think I ever missed,” he said.


He said another aspect of the job that he didn’t like was the difficulty of leaving work at the office.


“I don’t know any attorney who doesn’t take work home with them in their head,” Hansen said.


When Hansen isn’t trying to put criminals behind bars, he spends most of his time with his wife mainly doing outdoor activities.


Hansen’s office looks like that of many lawyers, with a thick book sitting on his desk, diplomas hanging on the walls and white folders filled of documents taking most part of his space. However, next to the metal bookshelf, there is a frame with two pictures - one of a climber struggling to move through what it looks like an ice tunnel and the other of the beautiful but intimidating Mount Hood, the highest point in Oregon.


“That’s me in the picture,” Hansen said. “I climbed it in 2007 with an ice ax on my hand and  crampons on my feet.”


Hansen has been a hiker since he was in high school, but it wasn’t until he moved to Sibley that he started to go for high mountains. After two co-workers invited him to climb Mount Whitney in California, he said he fell in love with the feeling of reaching a summit.


On his office walls, he also has shots of Mount Rainier in Washington, which he said was the hardest thing he has done in his life (taking into account that he did the climb at age 52).


“It’s a reminder that if you set your mind to it, you can do whatever you want to do,” he said.


He added he couldn't have chosen a better place to raise his daughters and will be always thankful to the community that welcomed him with open arms years ago.


“There are a lot of good people here and we made a lot of good friends,” Hansen said. “We will miss them, but there are some things about Osceola County that I won’t miss - like the local politics.”


By July 21, Hansen said he hopes to be completed moved to Colorado, where he will live with his wife and be closer to her older daughter. He added that his time will be also spent traveling to visit his other daughter in central Iowa.

“I had thought about continuing to practice law in Colorado, but I’ve really got to the point that I am ready to be done dealing with everybody else's problems,” he said.




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