Richard Paul “Dick” Bansen

BansenRichard Paul “Dick” Bansen, 97, on January 7, 2022, peacefully, at Foulkeways at Gwynedd, a Quaker continuing care retirement community in Gwynedd, Pa. Dick was born on July 2, 1924, to Donald C. Bansen and Anna Sherwood Bansen, who were members of Lansdowne Meeting near their home in Glenolden, Pa. Dick was the youngest of three children and the first to be born in a hospital. He graduated from George School in 1942 and enlisted in the Army Air Forces in 1943, serving until 1946. With characteristic good luck, the war ended before his plane was needed overseas. After the war, Dick attended Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pa., graduating in 1951.

In 1950, Dick met Shirley Anne Mutch at a Young Friends function where they addressed envelopes containing announcements of a trip to the newly established United Nations. In 1952, Dick and Shirley were married under the care of Green Street Meeting in Philadelphia. The couple had four children: Peter, Cindy, Sarah, and Elizabeth (Lisi). They lived in the same home in West Mt. Airy for nearly 50 years.

In 1958, while working for the City of Philadelphia, Dick received his master’s degree in governmental administration from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. His career with the city continued into the 1970s when Dick left to apply his administrative and financial acumen to Foulkeways at Gwynedd and later with Philadelphia Yearly Meeting’s Fiduciary Corporation. Dick retired from the Fiduciary Corporation when he was nearly 80 years of age.

Throughout Dick and Shirley’s marriage of 61 years, they were active members of Green Street Meeting. They were devoted not only to the meeting but to the school under its care: Greene Street Friends School. Shirley taught elementary grades at the school for many years, and, at any given time, Dick and Shirley each served on two or three meeting committees. Dick’s deep commitment to peace and justice causes led him to visit prisoners and support organizations opposing war, racism, and intolerance.

Dick’s life was one of dedication to community and generosity of both heart and hands. He was a loving, supportive, and fun father and grandfather; a skilled camper and hiker; a craftsman in wood and metal; and a singer with a brilliant memory for Gilbert and Sullivan songs. He had the ability to offer a song for any occasion.

After moving to Foulkeways in 2008, Dick served on many committees and participated in many activities, including one group that read plays and another that read poetry to residents in memory care. He acted, sang in the chorus, and selected films for Foulkeways’s weekly movie screenings.

Called by some the “Mayor of Foulkeways,” Dick knew the life story of nearly every resident and readily recalled minor details. Before heading home after a meal in the Foulkeways dining room, he would segue from one conversation or greeting to another, delaying departure by a half an hour or more.

To his final days, Dick cherished the company of his children and grandchildren and his best friend, fellow Foulkeways resident Penny Purnell. Often, he punctuated the end of a meal by proclaiming with a puckish grin, “My cup runneth over,” one of many biblical references he had memorized in childhood and which salted his conversations. His sense of humor never flagged.

Shirley died in 2013 and Lisi in 2005. Dick is survived by three children, Peter Bansen (Cindy), Cindy Travis (Tom Gerczynski), and Sarah Bansen (Dan Grossman); six grandchildren; and his dear and devoted friend Penny Purnell.

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