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HAGER, JOHN

HAGER, JOHN

HAGER, JOHN

HAGER, John Henry, died peacefully at his home in Richmond, Va. on August 23, 2020, at the age of 83. He was a resident of Richmond since 1965. He was born in 1936 to Virgil Duke and Ruth Rabbe Hager. John is survived by his wife of 49 years, Margaret Chase Hager. He was predeceased by his sister and brother-in-law, Nancy Hager Rand and William Kenan Rand Jr. John always will be remembered for his remarkable compassion for people and service to others above all else. His "can-do" determination to tackle obstacles in life was an inspiration for many, and he was energized by people of all backgrounds. A native of Durham, N.C., John graduated from Durham High School in 1954 and went on to attend Purdue University, receiving a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering in 1958 and Harvard University, receiving a Master of Business Administration Degree in 1960. He served in the U.S. Army and Army Reserve, rising to the rank of Captain and was a member of the American Legion. A business executive who started at the bottom, John rose quickly through the ranks of The American Tobacco Company to the position of Executive Vice President in 1973. In that same year, after a near-fatal bout with Polio, John started on a journey to rebuild his life and career in a wheelchair. He continued to work for The American Tobacco Company in several capacities and retired as Senior Vice President when the corporation was sold in 1994. During his time as an executive, he led numerous civic, charitable and community organizations across Virginia. Over his life, John was involved in over 80 community and civic organizations and received numerous awards for his service and citizenship. John continued to pursue his passion for people who elected him to Virginia's second highest office, that of Lieutenant Governor, in 1997 and served in that position for four years. He was the first Lieutenant Governor in the United States to serve in a wheelchair. Hager's full-time approach to serving the people of Virginia redefined the role of the Lieutenant Governor. During his campaign, he "rolled across Virginia" and visited every city and county in the Commonwealth. He served as Chairman or Vice-Chairman of five state commissions, and he ran unsuccessfully for Governor in 2001. Following the 9/11 attacks in 2001, John was selected by Governor Mark Warner of Virginia to serve on his cabinet leading the Office of Commonwealth Preparedness from 2002 to 2004. From 2004 to 2007, John served as Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services at the U.S. Department of Education under President George W. Bush. In this position, he pioneered an innovative approach to the transition of children and adults with disabilities to independence and a better life. He served as Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia from 2007 to 2008. Even up to his last day, John continued to be involved in many organizations including The Sorensen Institute of Political Leadership, Senior Navigator, the National Council of Stratford Hall, the Greater Richmond Convention Center and Custis Pond. He was also a Director of Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, Richmond Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau, Thomas Jefferson Institute, Virginia Free and Virginia 21. He is survived by his wife of 49 years, Maggie; and their two sons, John Virgil "Jack" Hager (Katharine Bigelow) of Philadelphia, Pa. and Henry Chase Hager (Jenna Bush) of New York, N.Y. He was so proud of his six grandchildren, Caroline Chase, Eloise Thayer, Ann Beatrice, Margaret Laura, Poppy Louise and Henry Harold Hager. Additionally, he is survived by nephews, William Kenan Rand III (Kristine), Marshall Hager Rand (Stephanie); and nieces, Ruth Rand Waldrop (Allister), Virginia Rand Bowman (John); numerous grandnieces, grandnephews and cousins on both sides of the family that were so dear to him. A lifelong athlete, angler and sportsman, John had a passion for the outdoors. He participated in many competitions and completed over a dozen marathons in his wheelchair. John joined the congregation of First Presbyterian Church in Richmond, Va., in 1965, and served as a Ruling Elder and past Chairman of the Board of Deacons. A private family graveside service will be held in Hollywood Cemetery. The family will plan a celebration of John's life at an appropriate time and place. In lieu of customary remembrances, please consider a memorial contribution to: The Sheltering Arms Foundation, 140 East Shore Drive, Suite 200, Glen Allen, Va. 23059; Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, Inc., P.O. Box 3605, Williamsburg, Va. 23187, www.historyisfun.org/donate/; or Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia, P.O. Box 400206, Charlottesville, Va. 22904, giving.virginia.edu/sorensen. Arrangements are by the Central Chapel of Bennett Funeral Home. The address for online condolences is at www.bennettfuneralhomes.com; select obituaries.

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