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Mark Lathrop Hansen

We mourn the loss of Mark Lathrop Hansen, a longtime Santa Barbara resident and medical doctor who passed away on June 18, 2018, at the age of 67. Born in Chicago, Mark became a true citizen of the world. He grew up in Syracuse, New York; Millbrae, California; Karachi, Pakistan; Lagos, Nigeria; Williamstown, Massachusetts; and Washington DC. He traveled widely throughout his life, including a six-month stint in Kumasi, Ghana, while pursuing his medical studies. He was profoundly moved by the diversity of human cultures and by nature’s own astounding diversity.

Mark graduated from the Sidwell Friends school in Washington DC in 1969. He then studied cultural anthropology and political science at Pomona College, where he also enrolled in pre-med courses. After graduating in 1974, he entered medical school at Emory University and received his M.D. in 1978. Meantime, he had developed a keen interest in whales to go along with his long-standing passion for sailing, scuba-diving, and other outdoor activities. He was accepted for a residency at Cottage Hospital, and by his own admission it was love at first sight: “I was seduced by Santa Barbara,” he once said, “with its 3000’ mountains on the sea and the Channel Islands.”

After completing his residency, Mark accepted a position as a staff physician in Student Health at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He was their expert Internal Medicine specialist, and undertook other duties such as providing comprehensive health information sessions for students, faculty, and staff preparing to travel and reside abroad. Mark was “extremely respected and honored as our colleague,” says Mary Ferris, the Executive Director of Student Health. “He was consulted by many for his knowledge and experience, and he touched the lives of so many students who praised him with many compliments while he was here. We remember him fondly.”

Mark took full advantage of the natural splendors of Santa Barbara and its surrounding area. He became a knowledgeable whale watcher, photo-identifying Humpback and Blue whales and assisting with marine mammal rescues (note his stethoscope in the attached photo). He became an outstanding paraglider, remarking that “I don’t recommend it for everyone, but this is what Leonardo da Vinci would have done if he had had nylon.” After his retirement in 2014, he studied ornithology and became a dedicated birder. His other focused, artful accomplishments included painting and photography. All who knew him were constantly impressed with his fine-grained, ever-deepening knowledge of every activity he took up. He could talk in spell-binding ways for hours about the latest camera, the most recent whale sighting, the hawks who accompanied him while paragliding, the spices in the dishes being served at dinner, and (literally, it seems) everything else, including the many-sided aspects of his medical work. Mark never took a thing in this world for granted. He brought a deeply attentive attitude to everything he did and to everyone he met. All who encountered Mark knew they had truly been ‘seen’ by him.

Mark is survived by his wife, Ann Bronstein, whom he met in 1993 and married in 2002. They enjoyed a remarkable romance, traveling the world – with a special affection for Big Sur – cooking diverse cuisines, maintaining an art-filled home, and much more. Mark is also survived by his three siblings and their families: David Hansen of New York City and his wife, Elaine; Leith Black of Niceville, Florida, and her husband Randy and daughter Alexandra; and Roderick Hansen of Albuquerque and his wife, Lydia, and children Ariana and Andrew. Mark is survived, too, by his daughter Kathy Cornwell of Fairfax Station, Virginia, and her husband David, by his cousin Steven Sweeney and his wife Allyson Adams of Santa Fe and family, by Shawn Sweeney and her husband Chris Hollendonner of Santa Fe and family, and by numerous other cousins, relatives, and friends, all of whom miss him dearly. Finally, Mark leaves behind his beloved pet rabbit, “Fuzzy,” whom he and Ann rescued from a shelter.

Donations in Mark’s name can be made to the Ridley-Tree Cancer Center of Santa Barbara or to the National Audubon Society.

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