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Wendell Hansen departs.

A Wing and a Prayer: Bible Birds' Wendell Hansen, 92, departs

Reverend Wendell Hansen of Bible Birds fame has taken his inspiring act on the celestial highway. He died on Sept. 29, 2002, at the age of 92, after performing Hansen's Bible Birds show for over 50 years. Our loss is Heaven's gain.

Starting in the late 1940s, Rev. Hansen traveled the Midwest and eastern states with his feathered entourage, where canaries, cockatoos, macaws sang, danced and acted out moral lessons from the Bible. The show gained national publicity in the 1950s, and continued on for decades as a favorite of church groups and county fairs.

Wendell and the Baby Jesus.

We first met Wendell in 1991, when he graciously performed a show for us on Labor Day at his home in Noblesville. Roadside fans stopping in to see the Hansen's were nearly always treated to an impromptu act in the garage or the backyard, depending on the weather. Wendell's wife Eunice played the piano and encouraged the birds to sing, while son Dean provided technical assistance.

We were fortunate again in 1999, when the Reverend agreed to pack up the Bible Bird van and travel to Cave City, Kentucky for a special performance in the main teepee of the Wigwam Village Motel. Even into his nineties, his energy appeared limitless; after the show's conclusion, he pulled out a hand-pushed Zoom Broom and policed the bird droppings around the teepee floor.

Wendell continued to perform up to the age of 91; he gave his last bird show in December 2001 in Indianapolis. He fell ill with pneumonia in March 2002, and was discovered to have congestive heart failure. He was home again for some months, cared for by Eunice, had another bout of pneumonia, and finally succumbed.

Lest you think Bible Birds was his only pursuit, note that the Rev. owned several gospel radio stations in the Midwest. He was a graduate of Cleveland Bible College, William Penn University and University of Iowa. Whenever we saw him, he mentioned he was writing a "book about drugs."

Rev. Hansen is buried in Crownland Cemetery, Noblesville. He is survived by his lifelong co-performer, Eunice Hansen, son Dean, daughter Sylvia Cunningham, and three grandchildren. According to Eunice, Bible Bird Show ownership has been transferred to the "international Sunday School director for the Wesleyan Church."

Rev. died in 2002, show moved to another ministry.

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