Dan was born April 11, 1958, joining his brother Audie and proceeding to greet 3 more brothers (Michael, Charley, and Marty) and finally a little sister – Jennifer. He spent his early years preparing for the itinerant lifestyle he would embrace in his later years as the family moved around southwestern Montana chasing jobs and opportunities. He settled down for a short time starting in 3rd grade, kept his widowed grandmother company for a few years in Virginia City MT, then joined mom and dad (Tony and Geri Hensel) and the rest of the family in Harlowton MT where he graduated High School in 1976.
Practically the day after he graduated, Dan moved to Helena MT to attend trade school. He studied as a machinist before abruptly deciding he needed to be a diesel mechanic in Oregon. So he packed up and moved. While there he lived in Roseburg and worked for FJM trucking in the logging industry. He was extremely proud of the work he did which included not only the daily mechanics and maintenance, but the opportunity to assemble new trucks from the ground up simultaneously cussing the drivers for not keeping the trucks as well as he expected. After the demise of FJM and much of the Oregon logging industry, he moved back to Montana and pursued a career in law enforcement, first for Broadwater County and then for Wheatland County before deciding that life behind a badge wasn't for him. After a few years as a mechanic in remote logging camps in Alaska, he settled in Belgrade and went to work for Montana Crane, turning wrenches and learning everything a man could know about cranes, going so far as to be a certified crane inspector. You didn't want to get him started on the weaknesses of that system! He finished his career with Century Paving, living in a camp trailer and moving around to the different job sites while learning everything there was to know about paving equipment. In both those positions Dan admired the people that ran the equipment, wished they listened better to his maintenance admonitions, and put in the long hours necessary to insure his job was well done.
Dan was always a favorite Uncle to his nieces and nephews, although they playfully called him their grumpy uncle, they also recognized that he loved them and had their best interests in heart. He was the first to let them know that they were always welcome in his world no matter what they may have done or thought they had done. His home was theirs. He very seldom gave an expensive gift, but he always gave them the gift of advice and experience, sometimes even when it wasn't what they wanted to hear. But the best gift he gave them was his presence, attending plays and ballgames, graduations and birthdays every time he could.
Unknown to most, Dan was somewhat of a ladies man. His love of women started with his mother, his grandmother, his Aunt Skip and his Auntie May. He had a special relationship with his sister in law Chantele, and always semi-seriously warned his brother that if he messed up Dan would pick up where he left off. He was married and divorced twice, never letting that dull his capacity for love, he went on to pursue several relationships before deciding that the love of his life was Sally, the dachshund that was his constant companion, best friend, and his reason for being.
Out of his love for the women in his life came the next Daniel Hensel, Cody, his son and his hope. In Cody, Dan found the hope for the future and the purity of agape love. While they were separated by circumstance and the painful restrictions we mortals place on each other, they were never separate in his heart. He mourned the distance between he and his son much the way we mourn today. Opportunities lost that will never present themselves again.
Dan is survived by his son Cody, mother and father Geraldine and Tony Hensel, his brother Michael and wife Chantele, his brother Charley, his brother Martin and wife Winifred, and his sister Jennifer and her husband Mike Mager, numerous nephews and nieces, aunts and uncles, and too many life long friends to properly recognize here. He is joining his brother Audie and grandparents LeRoy and Laura McClurg in heaven.
While he shouldered the problems that we all share and a few we don't, Dan was a Christian. He recognized that there were much bigger things than our trivial daily challenges. In recognition of that and in lieu of flowers please make a contribution to the preservation of Virginia City MT through the Montana Heritage Commission, adopt a dachshund from Dachshund Rescue or buy breakfast for the person behind you in the drive through.
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