Donald W. Hager
ATHOL — Funeral services for Donald W. Hager, 89, were held Friday, Jan. 15, 2016, in the Higgins-O’Connor Funeral Home.
Rev. Mark Bariloni officiated. Words of remembrance were shared by grandson Gregory Hager, granddaughter Elizabeth Hager, Dawn Maroni, Joan Hager, Dick Truehart and John Hager.
Burial with full military honors followed in Silver Lake Cemetery and a celebration of Don’s life followed at the American Legion Home in Athol.
Higgins-O’Connor Funeral Home, 146 Main St., Athol, directed arrangements.
ATHOL — Services for Donald W. Hager, 89, who passed away Dec. 25, 2015, will be held at the Higgins-O’Connor Funeral Home, 146 Main St., Athol, on Friday, Jan. 15, with a calling hour from 10 to 11:30 a.m. with services to follow.
Following the service, Don will be put to rest at Silver Lake Cemetery next to his parents and his wife, Jean. A celebration of Donald’s life will commence at the American Legion home.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to a veterans’ organization of your choice in Donald W. Hager’s memory.
Higgins-O’Connor Funeral Home, 146 Main S., Athol, is directing arrangements.
ATHOL — It is with saddened hearts that the Hager family announces the passing of Donald W. Hager, beloved husband, father and Papa, on Dec. 25, 2015, at his home, age 89 years, 7 months, 23 days.
Don was born in Athol on Sunday, May 2, 1926, to Orie and Katherine (Blodgett) Hager. He graduated from Athol High School in 1944 and a few days later entered Navy training in Sampson, N.Y., followed by advanced amphibious training at Camp Bradford, Norfolk, Va.
Don served from June 1944 until his honorable discharge in July of 1946. His assignment was on LST 872 where he reached the rank of Quartermaster 3rd class. Don was a proud sailor and was referred to as a plank owner and declined promotion so as to stay with the same ship from boot camp until the ship was decommissioned at the end of war. His duties were primarily in the wheel house as a steersman, signalman and navigator. He was awarded the World War II Victory Medal, the American Theatre Medal and Asiatic-Pacific Theatre Medal. Following the end of the war Don worked in Washington, D.C., for the Veterans Administration. A few years later he returned to Athol and worked for the Allen Oil Company, Barre Wool, L.S. Starrett and the Athol Water Department.
Don met and married the love of his life Jean L. (Hanks) Hager on Aug. 22, 1953, at Starrett Memorial United Methodist Church. They made their home initially on Burma Road, then Anzio Road, later moving to Pinedale Avenue where they raised their three children, Steve, Kent and Karen. On Aug. 22, 2014, they had shared their 61st wedding anniversary.
In 1954, Donald was appointed as a police officer in Athol where he served until his retirement in 1986 — 32 years. Donald W. Hager was proud to retire as Badge #1. During his career on the police department Don was the first school safety officer, teaching local children the role of police in their community and teaching Halloween safety and stranger danger programs among many others. Don also instituted and oversaw the school crossing guard program. Don also worked as a plumber by day, totaling 13 years for Earl Gibson to provide for his family, then assumed his role as an officer at night. Following his retirement Don was a caretaker of Katherine Bullock Cole’s historic homes on Royalston Common.
Don instilled a sense of pride in the work ethic onto his children and grandchildren, as his son Kent recently retired from the Athol force as a sergeant after 32 years, and his grandson Donald recently began his career as an officer in Athol. Don’s father Orie also served the town of Athol from 1927 to 1950 on the police department.
Don was lifelong member of the Athol-Orange Lodge of Elks #1837, the Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Wheelerville Community Club. He was also a member of the U.S. LST Association and Massachusetts Police Association.
Throughout his life Don loved fishing, hunting, woodworking, football and teaching his skills to his grandchildren. He especially loved family gatherings — Easter egg hunts in the yard, a good Bloody Mary on Christmas, a hearty meal on Thanksgiving, lottery tickets on birthdays — and being around family and friends. Donald W. Hager was a dedicated family man and protective of those he so dearly loved.
Don was predeceased by his wife Jean on Oct. 2, 2014, his sister Marion (Hager) Rushford of Orange and his brother Rodney Hager of Springfield. A brother, Alan “Buzzy” Hager and wife Meridith of Vero Beach, Fla., survive him.
Donald W. Hager leaves behind his children, Karen and wife Tammy of South Royalston, Kent and wife Cinny of Athol, and Steve and wife Lynn of Gardner; and extended family throughout the Northeast and Florida. Papa-the Man, the Myth, the Legend also leaves behind his grandchildren whom he adored and admired for their accomplishments and humor, Gregory James, Donald Burnett and Elizabeth Jean of Athol, and Brent Steven (wife Kim) of Leominster; a very loyal friend, Blackie Bergeron; and canine friends, Bosco, Jayde and Shyla who gave him comfort. Don is now dancing in heaven with Jean.
Services will be held at the Higgins-O’Connor Funeral Home, 146 Main St., Athol, on Friday, Jan. 15, with a calling period from 10 to 11:30 a.m. with services to follow at 11:30. A celebration of Donald W. Hager’s life will commence at the American Legion Home in Athol following Don being put to rest at Silver Lake Cemetery next to his parents and his wife, Jean.
In lieu of flowers, consider donating to a veterans’ organization of your choice in Donald W. Hager’s memory.
To send an online condolence, visit www.mackfamilyfh.com.
Higgins-O’Connor Funeral Home 146 Main St., Athol, is directing arrangements.