UPDATE: A public memorial service for Robert takes place Friday, May 14, 1-2 p.m., at the plaza in front of City Hall, 600 Fourth Avenue. We're seeking customers and friends of Robert's from Seward Park or downtown to share their memories. E-mail or call us, 206-441-3247 ext.207, to volunteer.
Real Change learned this week of the death of Robert Hansen, a longtime vendor downtown and in the Rainier Valley.
Known for his warmth and willingness to lend a hand, Robert helped to sort out conflicts between Real Change vendors; he spoke to city and state officials about economic justice issues; and he led vendors in the weekly task of unloading a cargo van full of the new issue. He called Tuesday from Swedish Medical Center to let us know that he was too sick to make it to the office.
Born in Seattle and raised in the Rainier Valley, after high school at Rainier Beach Robert spent 15 years hawking food and beverages in the stands at the Kingdome. He also worked as a baker, a laborer, a meat processor and a cook. He sold newspapers throughout much of the '80s and '90s. Within six months of Real Change's first edition in August 1994, he began selling the paper. He was a frequent presence at the Seward Park PCC, on downtown streets near the seats of local government, and at the weekly Columbia City Farmers Market.
After a two-night stint at Swedish last week for internal bleeding, Robert was discharged on Tuesday, April 27. Doctor's orders prescribed seven days of bed rest. His body was found Thursday evening, April 29, in his pickup truck on Sixth Avenue South and South. Massachusetts Street, in the industrial SoDo district. The King County Medical Examiner estimates that he died Wednesday, April 28.
Robert was 58. In addition to his mother, survivors include a son, Robert Jr., of Seattle and a younger sister in Grand Junction, Colo.