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Gary W. Hansen, the former president of Hansen Fruit and Cold Storage of Yakima, Washington, died Jan. 15 after a yearlong battle with cancer. He was 73.

He began his career in agriculture as an employee of his father’s orchards called Valley Roz Orchards in Parker Heights, Washington, in the Lower Yakima Valley.

Gary W. Hansen

Gary W. Hansen

Hansen became president of the company following the death of his father, W.L. “Bill” Hansen, in 1968.

The building which houses the offices of the Washington State Fruit Commission and Good Fruit Grower magazine is named after the elder Hansen in honor of his service to the industry.

The younger Hansen continued to grow the business following his father’s death by expanding production acreage and more than tripling the size of the company’s storage and packing facilities. The company grew apples, cherries, peaches, plums and nectarines. At one time, the company was among the largest cherry packers in the state of Washington.

He also was involved in businesses not related to agriculture. According to his obituary, he owned the Yakima Sun Kings of the Continental Basketball Association from 1992 through 1995. He also owned a hauling business, a beer distributorship, a restaurant, race horses and a reining horse that qualified for the world championships.

In 2004, Hansen retired to his cattle and horse ranch near Tampico, Washington, where he enjoyed riding horses and branding calves.

He is survived by his wife, Ruth Ann Hansen, a son, three daughters, five grandchildren, and a brother and sister.

A celebration of life will be held at 2 p.m. on Jan. 21 in the State Fair Room at the Yakima Valley SunDome in Yakima.