Crown Bernice Hansen, a pioneer and visionary in the Amway business, died on Thursday, September 27, 2012 in Ada, Michigan at the age of 101 years. A source of inspiration and encouragement for many, she will be greatly missed but never forgotten.
Referred to as "Captain Energy" by her daughter Karen DeBlaay, Bernice was always encouraging and did not hesitate to go out of her way to support others so they could be successful in the business. For Bernice, personal freedom with financial options was a dream of a lifetime and she and her husband Fred were passionate about sharing this Business Opportunity with others.
In fact, Bernice and Fred Hansen were two of the very first IBOs. When they started as NUTRILITE® distributors in the 1950s, Amway wasn't even a company yet. Bernice believed in NUTRILITE products and sold DOUBLE X® door to door with Fred.
In 1959, Walter Bass, Fred & Bernice Hansen, Joe & Helyne Victor, Jere & Eileen Dutt, Rich DeVos, and Jay Van Andel formed a new distributor organization called the American Way Association (AWA). It was decided that Rich and Jay would head a sales company that would supply products, and the AWA, now the Independent Business Owners' Association International (IBOAI), would represent all IBOs. When asked about this, Bernice reported, "We told them we wanted a voice for Distributors in the field and Distributorships we could pass on to our heirs."
Bernice was known for and will be remembered for her passion, courage, and endless energy. By sharing her warmth and wisdom throughout her life, she truly made a difference. Bernice helped strengthen the AMWAY Business Opportunity, shape the IBO association, inspire family members and friends, and mentor IBOs so they could reach their dreams.
Bernice was preceded in death by her husband Fred L. Hansen and her second husband Dr. Ralph Gilbert. She is survived by her three daughters, Marianne (Wayne) Briggs of Ohio, Susan (Skip) Ross of Florida, and Karen (Jerry) DeBlaay of Michigan; three step-daughters; 19 grandchildren, step-grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.