Pioneering oil well firefighter Asger “Boots” Hansen, Jr. passed quietly at his home in Fort Myers, Florida on June 16, 2019 at age 93, according to an obituary posted by a Florida funeral home.
A native of Houston, Texas, Hansen was the second of two children born to Asger and Mary (Kornmayer) Hansen. Soon after leaving school and having reached his seventeenth birthday, Hansen enlisted in the U.S. Navy at the height of WWII. Always in search of adventure, he volunteered for the submarine service, the most hazardous duty in the navy.
After training at Pearl Harbor, he was placed aboard U.S.S. Nautilus (SS-168), which had been given the dangerous assignment of carrying men and supplies from Australia to guerilla fighters in the Japanese-held Philippines. After the war, Hansen returned to Houston and joined his father in the sign painting business. On weekends he would hang out at the local stock car track, where he became a driver for famous oil well firefighter Red Adair.
Around 1949 Red hired Boots as his assistant and began to teach him the art of oil well firefighting and blowout control. Both men worked for Myron Kinley, who had pioneered the field in the years before the war. As the business grew, additional employees were hired, including Edward O. “Coots” Matthews.
Hansen was entering a career that afforded him ample opportunities to indulge his love of travel. Although most of his time was spent in the Texas/Louisiana region and the Middle East, his work took him from the tip of South America to the north slope of Alaska, and from the South Sea Islands of Indonesia to the frigid waters of the North Sea.
In 1959, with the retirement of Myron Kinley, Red Adair formed his own company, and joining him were Boots and Coots. The 1960s were the “glory days” for the men of the Red Adair Company. As wells were drilled deeper, pressures increased, and the blowouts and fires became more spectacular. Expanding worldwide news coverage meant the firefighters’ exploits were often seen on television or in newspapers and magazines.
The two younger firefighters left the Red Adair Company in 1977 to form their own firm, Boots and Coots, Inc. Because they had been performing most of the work for Red’s company and were well known in the oil industry, they soon became the leading well control company in the world.
Hansen is survived by his wife Beverly, son Asger III (Ozzie), adopted daughter Kimberly, and granddaughters Taylor and Alicia. He is predeceased by his sister Mary Ellen and daughter Becky. He requested that no services be held, and Mrs. Hansen has asked that those who wish to make a remembrance please donate to their local hospice in the name of Asger “Boots” Hansen.
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