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Gerald's Story

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Gerald M. Hager, age 87, passed away Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018 in Traverse City at home.
He was born in Saginaw on Oct. 4, 1930 to William and Elizabeth (Muench) Hager. On Oct. 11, 1999 in Traverse City, he married Marjorie Wittbrodt Hager, who survives.
Jerry served his country honorably in the United States Army during the Korean War.
Following his service he graduated from Michigan State University and went on to obtain his Master of Science in education.
In 1960 he was transferred to Traverse City with his family where he resided for the rest of his life.
Jerry had a unique and varied career. He worked as a vocational education instructor for the Buckley Community Schools, Kingsley Community Schools, Antrim-Kalkaska Community Education Program and Northwestern Michigan College, where he was also the director of building and grounds. Along with his teaching career, Jerry owned Hager Construction Company.
Jerry also served in the National Guard at Camp Grayling for 20 years.
Jerry's community and civic contributions were numerous and varied. He was a member of Grand Traverse Bay Kiwanis Club, where he served as president; he was co-founder and president of the Northwest Michigan Chapter of the Korean War Veterans, a board member of the American Red Cross, a member of the Traverse City Elks Lodge #323 and the American Legion #2780, member and past president of the Traverse City Civic Players, a board member of the YMCA, board member and vice president of Traverse City Little League and chairman of the Civil Service Commission. He also served as East Bay zoning inspector.
He will be remembered by many as the poor soul in the Rotary Minstrel Show, a role he created and cherished for 42 years, which earned him the Paul Harris Fellow Award, a $1,000 contribution in his name to Rotary International. In addition to the Rotary Show he was regularly asked to play the role of Santa Claus and Ronald McDonald.
Jerry loved sailing, swimming and was a championship diver. Jerry had a passion for entertaining and performing; he was a true people person who also enjoyed traveling.
In addition to his wife, Jerry is survived by his children, William (fiancee, April) Hager and Dana Walters; stepchildren, Michelle (Chris) Lemme, Stephen Wittbrodt, Marsha Wittbrodt, Bruce (Martha) Wittbrodt and Mary (Larry) Bennett; grandchildren, Jerry Hager and John and Margaret Walters; great-grandchildren, Devon, Abigail and Aizlyn Hager; and many step grandchildren and step great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his first wife, Patricia Ellen Hager; son, L. Michael Hager; son-in-law, Gregory Walters; his beloved St. Bernard, George; and cat, Whitley.
Visitation for Jerry will be held at the Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home today, Feb. 9, 6 to 8 p.m. The funeral will take place Saturday at Reynolds-Jonkhoff at 11 a.m., with visitation one hour prior, with burial following at Grand Traverse Memorial Gardens.
For those wishing to give a gift in memory of Jerry, contributions may be directed to the Father Fred Foundation, the Cherryland Humane Society or the Salvation Army.
The family is being cared for and served by the Reynolds Jonkhoff Funeral Home.
Published on February 9, 2018
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