Walter Mencken 8:54 a.m., May 21
On July 1, 2011 the loving, devoted mother, grandmother and wife (shown above in a recent photo with her granddaughter) packed her bags and got into a car with her neighbor in South Lake Tahoe. He unexpectedly had a seat empty for the drive up to Skookum Meadow in Skamania County, Washington, where he planned to attend the Rainbow Family of Living Light's annual gathering.
Marie Hanson had never been to a Rainbow Gathering before and seemed to have a pretty foggy idea of what they were all about. Calling it a "peace rally", her impression seemed to be one of a small group of peace-loving people camping in nature for a few days. So she excitedly kissed her family goodbye and left for what was intended to be a nine day voyage of peace.
Marie called her husband as she approached the rural area 16 miles east/southeast of Mount St. Helens. She told him that she loved him and would see him on July 10th, and then she continued with her companions into the forest.
She was never seen or heard from by her family again.
The Rainbow Gathering has participants from every walk of life. Just as we have in mainstream America (or what Rainbows call "Babylon") there are thieves and rapists, doctors, children and homeless, peace lovers and alcoholics and anarchists and Christians and Buddhists and drug abusers and eschew-ers.
There are bad people and people who do bad things but mostly there are good people. Marie is one of the good ones. She truly believed she could make a difference in the lives of others.
One of the most frustrating aspects of this ongoing nightmare is the lack of concern. From the mainstream public who assume she's a hippie (read: incredibly irresponsible) to the police who have taken ages to respond and are still moving pretty slow. And from the media, who is uncharacteristically silent about a missing white woman. And then there are the Rainbows. Just like the people in "Babylon" (the society most of us operate in) many of those who call themselves Rainbow Family are incredibly helpful. But just as many insist she must be off on the "Rainbow Trail", a euphemism for dropping out of society. "She must not want to be found" is a common response from Rainbows.
This I can understand. It's easy to judge a person's character by the church or concerts they attend, the ball games, the rallies, the protests, the cars they drive, the clubs they frequent and how they vote. We all do it. It's understandable. But that doesn't mean it's effective.
So the Rainbows think she's freed herself from the shackles of normalcy and gone over the Rainbow. They believe she's happily tripping around the US, most likely in a amply bumper-stickered van with her hair in dreadlocks and a dog named Stump at her feet.
And the "Babylonians" mostly think she's just another hippie who's too disorganized to call home.
But her family and friends and neighbors in the small town of South Lake Tahoe where she is from, where she has raised her family, and where she resides with her husband with her beloved daughter and grandchildren nearby believe differently. They are well-acquainted with her character and have no doubt this is not a situation Marie would want or would be continuing if she had any ability to prevent it.
Shouldn't we listen to those who knew her best? Isn't the most prudent thing to do in a situation like this to look for her first and pass judgments about her character later?
This horrific real-life nightmare is being lived by her family, right now. In the interest of clarity and honesty I must say I am related by marriage to Marie Hanson, but I have never met her. The position in which I find myself is unique and new to me. I find myself defending the character of someone whom I have never met but is vouched for by my family, by those I love and trust and respect more than anyone. It has become very clear to me that ones reputation is of the utmost importance as strangers will discount a person if they do not meet the criteria for concern.
Marie is not a drug addict, or an alcoholic. She is a responsible, integral member of her community and has been for years. She is a devoted member of her family. She is loved. But even if she were not, wouldn't it be irresponsible not to look for her when she disappeared? Don't we have a responsibility to look for those who are lost regardless of religion or wealth or skin color or perceived importance?
The following was written by Nancy Enterline, whose son Tim is married to Marie Hanson's daughter Tawny:
*The “National” Rainbow Gathering this year was huge, and it must have seemed both exciting and chaotic to Marie. Our hometown of South Lake Tahoe has a year round population of about 20,000 and there were between 15,000-20,000 people over the 7 official days of the Gathering. There were kitchens serving food, and coffee tents, and trading circles, and people, and music.
And cars, lots of cars, some people report walking 3 and 4 miles with their gear, just to get to the gate. Marie and her neighbor camped that night, her back hurt from the long drive, and sleeping on the ground. She had had back surgery, had brought her pain medicine and doxepin to help her sleep, but people that she talked to the next day say that she was hurting.
Eventually, on July 3rd they moved their camp to a more convenient location up on the road, near the rear gate. She was seen that day, walking down the road toward the gathering, and then again on July 4th, during the evening dinner circle, when she was sitting next to a man some identified as “Owl”.
On one of these days she traded something for a hand crafted doll for her grandaughter, and a trinket for her grandson. On the 6th she was seen climbing into a pickup truck to take a ride down to a lower parking area or the bus village, then that evening many saw her back up at the Gathering at the dinner circle.
That night her other neighbor joined her boyfriend, and there is some confusion about whether Marie came back to camp that night. The next morning, the neighbor that she had traveled with thought he saw her walking down a trail toward the latrines. All of Marie’s belongings were left in the tent that she shared with her friend, including her purse, her medicine, the toys for her grandkids and her clothing.
She was not seen again by a reliable witness.
We need your help. We, Marie Hanson’s family, know that Marie had every intention of coming home to us. Marie and Billy have been a couple since Marie was 16 years old, she had just attended her son Mike’s wedding in Pennsylvania the last week of June, she and Tawny are as close as mother and daughter can be, and she visited or called her grandkids daily prior to her disappearance. She is active in her church and community. She has many friends and is always the first to step up when someone needs a hand.
We need a hand in our search and you can give it to us. We need people who were at the Gathering and saw or spoke to Marie, even if it seemed insignificant, to come forward and tell us what they saw or heard. Since we can’t seem to get the attention of the media, we are going to have to do it on our own. This is where you can give us a hand:
• If you have a Facebook page, friend us link text and then post a link to our website on your page, ask your friends to repost and ask them to have their friends friend us and repost.
• Grab a copy of our poster link text , copy this story and forward to all of your email contacts. Tell our story, tell your friends that our grandkids miss their gramma and want her to come home, then ask them to ask their friends to repost. I’m sure this will work and we will eventually hit everyone in the country, because sometimes I will get the same dumb joke in my inbasket a dozen times in a single week.
• If you have a blog, or a website, post our story, you can copy anything you need right from this site. Comment on news stories about Marie, asking for a follow-up story.
• If you have contacts in the media, invite them to read our story and contact us. Somebody saw Marie, somebody talked to her, we need to find that person and it might just be you who finds them for us and brings Marie Hanson home to her family. Take a moment and give us a hand. Please.*
Name: Marie Hanson Age: 56 Missing From: Rainbow Gathering near Stevenson , WA Height: 5'2 Weight: 125 Eye Color: Brown Hair Color: Brown w/ blonde streaks Race: Caucasian Complexion: Fair Birth Date: Sept. 27, 1956 Distinguishing Marks: Large scar up spine on back from surgery. Jewelry: Silver Necklace w/silver cross, silver rings on almost all fingers.
Please call the SLTPD at 530-542-6110 if you have any information about MARIE HANSON case#1107-1214 OR Skamania County Sheriff (509) 427-9490 Case #11-05271
Please call Tawny Enterline at 530-307-8156 or 530-307-0280 (email firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any information about MARIE HANSON.