Yvonne M. Hanley

Yvonne Mary Hanley, 76 years of age, passed away surrounded by family on Wednesday, November 10, 2021 in Tempe, Arizona.

Yvonne was born on July 13, 1945 in Melrose, Minnesota to the late Ethel and Cyril Spies. She was the second oldest of six children in her family. She moved with her family to Devils Lake, ND in 1950 and then to Grand Forks, ND in 1955. Yvonne graduated from Central High School in Grand Forks in 1963 and attended the University of North Dakota, earning a double major in English Education and Library Science in 1967. She continued her education and graduated with a Master’s Degree in Library Science in 1970 from the University of North Dakota.

Yvonne met James Hanley while working as a student teacher at South Junior High in Grand Forks, where James was teaching. They were married on June 22, 1968 and had three daughters, Pam, Nancy, and Susan.

Yvonne had a passion for teaching, learning, and books. She worked as an elementary school librarian in the Grand Forks Public Schools in the 1970’s and again from 1995 to 2001. Yvonne was also a professor at the University of North Dakota, teaching Children’s Literature for 35 years to those pursuing their Elementary Education degrees. Yvonne retired from this position in 2001, but continued to dabble in the field as a librarian for Holy Family Elementary School.

Yvonne was extremely active in Holy Family Catholic Church and School. She was active in RCIA at Holy Family Church for many years and thoroughly enjoyed introducing others to a church community and faith that she was so deeply tied to. Yvonne loved to volunteer to help with church activities, as well as reading during Sunday mass. Her faith was strong and this was evident until the end. She found peace in prayer and listening to Bible scripture.

Yvonne was a Girl Scout leader for several years, including the time her daughters were involved. She enjoyed every minute of this and loved inventing new activities for each new troop. The memories that Yvonne created for her daughters, as well as girls in the troops will be looked back on for years to come.

As a librarian and lover of literature she became involved in Ethiopia Reads, even traveling to Ethiopia with a friend and fellow librarian. Ethiopia Reads was a passion for her and she continued to help raise funds and take book donations through the years.

Family was one of Yvonne’s most valued treasures in life. When her busy schedule allowed, she enjoyed traveling to Arizona to spend time with her daughters and grandchildren. Yvonne loved to attend her grandchildren’s sporting events and other various activities during these visits. She became a “yes” grandma and could never turn down a family member, helping them make Halloween costumes, fix or sew something, write a paper until all hours of the night, correct their grammar, bake pies or banana bread, or make the best smoothies in the whole wide world.

Yvonne was also passionate about her friends. She was always there to listen, not only to them, but to family. When talking to Yvonne, there would be no judgement and she would give the best advice. She enjoyed playing cards, attending book club, and traveling with her friends.

Yvonne is preceded in death by her husband, James Hanley, her daughter, Pam Solseng, her brother, Rod Spies, and her parents, Ethel and Cyril Spies.

She is survived by her daughters, Nancy Hanley-Wroble, Susan (Chad) Holweger, son-in-law, Brent Solseng, grandchildren, Shalene (Matt) Troyer, Alex Solseng, Zac and Jacob Wroble, and Lucy and Lucas Holweger, great-grandchildren, Grahm and Miles Troyer, sister, Margot (Frank) Kohl, brothers, Ty (Patty) Spies, Randy (Kris) Spies, Craig Spies, sister-in-law, Debbie Spies, and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Yvonne was full of love, life, and light and will forever hold a book-shaped spot in the hearts of anyone who had the pleasure of knowing her.

Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Wednesday, November 24, 2021 at 11:30 am at Holy Family Catholic Church in Grand Forks, ND. Visitation will be for one hour prior to the funeral mass in the church. Interment will be in Calvary North Cemetery, Grand Forks.  Online guestbook will be available at

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