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Former Virginia Lieutenant Governor John Hager dead at 83

Governor: 'John Hager devoted his life to public service'
John Hager
John Hager, Maggie Hager
John Hager
Jeff Frederick
Posted at 9:50 PM, Aug 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-23 23:29:51-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Gov. Ralp Northam has ordered flags to fly at half-staff in Virginia to honor the life of former Lieutenant Governor John H. Hager.

Hager, who served as Virginia's lieutenant governor from 1998 to 2002, also served as chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia.

"John Hager devoted his life to public service, and I admired his love for our country and for Virginia," Northam said. “He served in the Army and worked as a businessman, but he will be remembered as a volunteer, an athlete, an author, and a patriot.

“I first met John after running for public office, and he helped me learn the job of being Lieutenant Governor. Anyone who worked in Virginia politics quickly learned that John was everywhere, and no one outworked him. He earned victory and knew defeat, and he kept going. John held fast to his principles, and he knew when to reach across the aisle to compromise. Our country misses his example.

“Most of all, John was a family man. Pam and I send our thoughts and prayers to Maggie, Jack, Henry, and the entire Hager family.

John Hager, Maggie Hager
Former chairman of the Virginia Republican party John Hager and his wife Maggie wave to the crowd after asking the convention to elect delegate Jeff Frederick by acclamation during the 2008 Virginia Republican Convention in Richmond, Va., Saturday, May 31, 2008. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Former Gov. Bob McDonnell:

“John Hager was an exceptional public servant. More importantly he was a man of great perseverance, character, and civility. John Hager’s life is one of overcoming obstacles that would have sidelined a lesser man. One finds out a lot about a person by the character of his children, and John and Maggie raised two exceptional sons. While he achieved much in business and politics, John will be remembered most for his heart for service, his zeal to get things done, and his great love for the Commonwealth.”

Lt. Gov Justin Fairfax:

"I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of dear friend Lt. Governor John Hager — a wonderful Virginia public servant and an even better person.

"John loved his family and the Commonwealth, and he dedicated so much of his life to bringing people together and lifting us all to higher, common ground.

"I personally will miss his tremendous warmth, optimism and generosity of time and spirit. John always made himself available to help others and freely share his signature wit and wisdom.

"As Lieutenant Governor, I have treasured John’s impeccable advice and the eloquence of his example in leadership and in life. He turned life’s obstacles into opportunities and its tragedies into triumphs — always focusing on the future and inspiring all those he met along the way.

"John Hager is a true Virginia original. And, we will miss him.

"Our prayers and condolences go out to the Hager Family who will always be a special part of the Commonwealth’s Family."

Sen. Mark Warner:

“I’ve known John Hager for more than 30 years and I can attest that John epitomized the very definition of a true public servant. We worked together on the Virginia Health Care Foundation to ensure all Virginians had access to health care. And during my time as Governor, I was proud of the work he did on my Cabinet, serving as the Director of Homeland Security. John was a great Virginian, who, despite the remarkable obstacles he faced in his personal life, was able to persevere and give back to his community. John was a great friend to me and the Commonwealth he served.

“I want to offer my sincerest condolences to Maggie, the boys, and the entire Hager family on their loss. I will miss him greatly.”

Sen. Tim Kaine:

“John Hager served his city, Commonwealth, and country well. He inspired me. I’m proud to call him a friend, and Anne and I are thinking about Maggie and his wonderful family.”

Virginia Senate Republicans:

“Today, Virginia has lost a leader who dedicated his life to our commonwealth and its citizens," Senate Republican Leader Thomas K. Norment, Jr. (R-James City) wrote.

“I am one of four senators from our caucus who was privileged to serve during John Hager’s tenure as Lieutenant Governor. His exemplary stewardship was distinguished by his fairness to both sides in debate, his strict adherence to the Rules and customs of our chamber, and his dedication to Virginia.

“Although he was among our party’s strongest and most reliable supporters, he placed duty to America and Virginia first, always answering when called upon to serve.

“John was also a truly inspirational leader. Contracting polio as an adult, his affliction never slowed him down. Indeed, John Hager was one of the most active and involved leaders of his generation. He also never let it affect his optimistic and positive outlook, as John was renowned for being one of the most gregarious and cheerful men to engage in politics.

“He served our nation as a Captain in the United States Army and later as an Assistant Secretary of the Department of Education. He served Virginia as its Lt. Governor and as Homeland Security director after the attacks of September 11. He tirelessly promoted the Richmond region, successfully making it a convention destination. And, he was a leader for our party, not only as a candidate, nominee, and elected official, but as Chairman.

“On behalf of the entire Virginia Senate Republican Caucus, I extend our deepest and most sincere sympathies to Maggie, Jack, Henry, John’s grandchildren and the entire extended Hager family. The gentleman you so generously shared with us will be long remembered for his service to all.”

Del. Kirk Cox:

“Julie and I are heartbroken to learn of the passing of our dear friend John Hager. We join Virginians from all walks of life in recognizing and memorializing his incredible life.

“John devoted much of his time on Earth to serving others. He served our nation faithfully in the United States Army, rising to the rank of captain. John served honorably as lieutenant governor from 1998 to 2002 and served as an assistant secretary in the Bush administration. Even after his time in public office, John continued to serve the people of Virginia on a wide range of boards and commissions, including the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation.

“John was actively involved in Republican Party politics, and served as chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia from 2007 to 2008. He was a frequent guest at fundraising events and was dedicated to the principles of limited government. Even as his health was failing him, John made a point to attend Republican district conventions to cast his vote and show his support for our party’s nominees.

“I always enjoyed working alongside John. I was able to witness firsthand his dedication to his work and his love for serving others. Though a bout with polio in the 70s impacted his mobility, it never got in the way of the job. He always took time to listen, offer advice, and do what needed to be done to accomplish the task at hand. John’s example of servant-leadership is one that we can all strive to emulate.

“Julie and I ask the entire Commonwealth to join us in prayer for John’s wife Maggie, his sons John and Henry, and the entire Hager family. We have lost a fine statesman and a true Virginia gentleman. Our Commonwealth is a better place because of John.”