APU Walkabout members, past colleagues and friends of the late Tim Hansel gathered together in Marshburn Library next to the reading room built in his honor to celebrate his life on Saturday, Oct. 24.
Attendees reminisced in the reading room, a clone of Hansel’s office, filled with his favorite books and personal journals.
A memorial slideshow, which included photographs of Hansel’s climbs, family and friends, played in the background while they shared stories about how he impacted each of their lives.
Hansel founded APU’s Walkabout program over the span of two years at the university. The program originally partnered with Hansel’s outdoor adventure company, Summit, a mountaineering wilderness program designed to bring participants to confront and thrive in 20th century complexities and challenges. By 1980, APU harbored Walkabout on its own.
For over 40 years, the Walkabout program has prepared student leaders for service. Over the course of 10 days, students are equipped with what they have on their back and sent to the wilderness.
This training exhausts both the mental and physical ability and causes students to wholly lean on God , while building community with one another.
Co-CEO of C.H. Bull Co. Andy Bull shared how he met Hansel. Bull came home one day after eighth-grade football practice when his parents introduced him to the then-Young Life leader. Growing up in a Lutheran church, Bull said that it was not about relationship, it was about religion.
“I wasn’t impressed with Tim,” Bull said, until he figured out that Hansel had played football for Stanford in 1961. After building a relationship with Hansel through a common love of sports, Bull described how Hansel changed his life.
“I believe Tim was the first man in my life that ever hugged me and told me he loved me,” Bull said. “He was Jesus incarnate, and he loved me every minute of every day we were together. It was because of that I felt he really made the difference.”
Shortly after Hansel founded Summit. Hansel descended from a glacier in the North Palisade Peak in the Sierra Nevada, fell about four stories and landed on a fissure in the mountain. This resulted in excruciating pain for the next 35 years of his life until he passed in 2009.
Hansel’s barber ‘Pancho’ shared with attendees the story that Hansel told him about his fall during a hair cut about 25 years ago.
“He spent the whole night laying there with a broken back. The next morning, he felt this strength that came to him, he got up and crawled on his knees all the way down that mountain, until somebody found him and dropped him off to his car. He drove himself all the way to the hospital,” ‘Pancho’ said. “That’s how strong this man was, Tim Hansel.”
Scott Harris, former executive director at Summit, worked with Hansel some time after Walkabout was founded. Harris met Hansel at a college seminar retreat while Hansel was one of the speakers shedding light on the wilderness ministry.
“Tim just knew how to love, he knew how to embrace people right where they were at,” Harris said. “We tend to be in the church to follow a set of rules. Jesus gave us two of them: love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. Tim lived that.”
Rob McClurg, the retired teacher who built Hansel’s reading room, met Hansel at 16 when Hansel was McClurg’s Young Life leader and soccer coach.
“This room has books that were foundational for him, molded his character and molded his ideas and thoughts. In addition to the books being there, most of those books are heavily notated [by Hansel] in the margins,” McClurg said.
There are at least 30 of Hansel’s journals in the room that contain Hansel’s battles as a man, Christian, father, husband, teacher and son of God.
“As far as what the students can get from Tim, they can glean their own thoughts about what he is and what he was and how he committed himself to bringing the Lord’s world right here,” McClurg said. “I hope [the students] get a chance to do that.”