"She was born in 1919, the year the Packers were born. Growing up, my sisters and I spent a lot of time with our grandmother. If it was Sunday, we were watching ‘the game.' Losing most of her hearing at an early age, she always sat close to the television on an ottoman so she never missed a play. Ironically, most children learn about football from the men in the family, but our family learned from her.
"Grandma never misses a game. Family gatherings took place after the game. On Sundays after church, she literally rushes through the door to get home for a noon game. She then surrounds herself with her lucky Packers items, including a Packer rock she rubs when the score is down. If you are watching the game with her, be prepared to see something Vince Lombardi-like in the form of a sweet little grandma.
"She'd rather watch the game at home, but every other year ventures out to Lambeau to be with the crowd. The last game we attended was two years ago. It was winter, about 30 degrees. She was all bundled up and stood with the rest of the fans, dropping her hot chocolate from her hand on a bad call from a referee. I asked her one time why she never got a place on the season-ticket list. She just smiled and said, ‘I didn't think I would make it this long.'"
She'll have a chance to leave home this week as four tickets to Sunday's game against Jacksonville are among her prizes. She also won a $500 Packers Pro Shop gift certificate and two tickets and accommodations for a road game next season.
"(We) truly believe that this honor would be the best 85th birthday present she could ever receive and to receive it from the Green Bay Packers would literally be a dream come true — or just to sit down and have a cup of coffee with Bart Starr."
She might be able to do that when she's honored with the team's gridiron Hall of Famers during the annual induction dinner in July.
Hanke is the third woman to earn a space in the Fan Hall of Fame. She beat out a list of nine other finalists: Dan Behnke, Highlands Ranch, Colo.; Charles Brown, Milwaukee; the Rev. Gilbert Hagin, Marietta, S.C.; Tom Hoglen, Trenton, N.J.; Ted Kosmo, Arcadia; Larry Primeau, De Pere; Patti Schultz, West Bend; Mike Seavert, New Berlin; and Dr. Jeffery Smith, Alma, Mich.
The other Fan Hall of Famers are Mel Knoke of Appleton, Louis Gardipee of Black River Falls, Ed Jablonski of Wausau, Paul Mazzoleni of Green Bay, Wanda Boggs of Brookfield and Sister Isaac Jogues Rousseau of Milwaukee.