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Wilson Dedicates Rally Stage For Beloved Educator Keith Hansen

The562’s coverage of Long Beach Wilson Athletics is sponsored by Joel Bitonio, Class of 2009.

Wilson High paid tribute to a beloved former activities director and longtime community supporter Keith Hansen last week, renaming the school’s rally stage for Hansen in a pregame ceremony before the school’s Homecoming game. Hansen was instrumental in pushing the Long Beach Unified School District to build a rally stage at Wilson, which he filled up with weekly rallies that fueled the school’s famous school spirit. All LBUSD high schools have rally stages now, thanks in part to Hansen’s advocacy. 

Hansen passed away in December of 2022 suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 73. An active volunteer and past president with the Long Beach Century Club, Hansen continued to cheer on and support youth athletes in Long Beach. He had been running the Century Club’s popular middle school sports banquet for a few years prior to his passing.

His services, held in Wilson’s auditorium, were a tribute to a fun-loving man who lived a life of service. The rally stage dedication was much the same, emceed by Wilson teacher Brad Rudy, a close friend of Hansen’s.

Marni Gaylord, a Wilson alum and veteran of the entertainment industry (as well as the owner of Marni’s in Seal Beach), said, “Keith Hansen changed my life.” She detailed a story of missing out on becoming a Bruinette cheerleader because of an injury. Hansen encouraged her to run for student office, and (in his role as activities director) appointed her to run the school’s rallies.

“I was a shy girl and he saw something in me,” she said. “I got up there and I never looked back. I am the person I am today because of Keith and because he got me up on this stage.”

Hansen’s wife, Carol, gave voice to what many of the gathered Bruin alums were thinking.

“It’s so wonderful to have so many family and friends here,” she said. “The only person that’s missing is Keith. There’s no place he’d rather be than watching all of you and your cardinal and gold, and going out there and having a great Homecoming.”

After thanking the Century Club, Rudy, and the Polmanteer family for their work in getting the stage dedicated, Carol urged the large contingent of Wilson cheerleaders, musicians, and students on hand to treasure their time at the school together.

“We’re all reminiscing today about all the things we did, whether it’s being in the orchestra, being a Bruinette, being in drama, whatever it is–stay involved, and be committed to your school because it’s going to make a difference for many years to come,” she said.

After the heartfelt ceremony had concluded, the new plaque (donated by University Trophy) was unveiled, on the stage where it will commemorate the life of a Long Beach man who chose to give back.

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Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.