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Former Lt. Gov. John Hager dies

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John Hager

Former Virginia Lt. Gov. John H. Hager died Aug. 23 at the age of 83.

Gov. Ralph Northam issued the following statement today on his passing: “John Hager devoted his life to public service, and I admired his love for our country and for Virginia. He served in the U.S. 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.”

Northam continued, “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. I have ordered Virginia state flags to be flown at half-staff for 10 days in John’s honor.”

Barry DuVal, president and CEO of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, also felt moved to comment on Hager’s passing.

“Virginia has lost a true statesman,” said DuVal. “During my time as secretary of commerce and trade, I had the privilege of working closely with Lt. Gov. Hager and saw firsthand his unparalleled commitment to the commonwealth. No one outworked John and everyone he interacted with was better because of it.

“John Hager’s tireless dedication to the commonwealth and nation earned him the respect and admiration of those on all sides of the political spectrum. His efforts to improve the commonwealth will long outlast his public service. 

“He continued his participation in civic life long after his time in office and could often be found at every event, meeting, conference and public discussion. In fact, John has participated in almost every Virginia Chamber conference over the last 30 years and his presence was always something to look forward to. John also served as a member of the board of directors for the Virginia Chamber of Commerce during the 1990s and played a significant role in elevating the chamber’s mission throughout Virginia.

“Above all, John was a devoted husband and father. My prayers are with his wife Maggie, his sons John and Henry, and their entire family. John‘s presence will be sorely missed and his impact on our Commonwealth will be felt for years to come.”

John Hager

Born in North Carolina in 1936, Hager served in the military and then worked for a tobacco company in Richmond. He contracted polio in 1973.

Hager served as the director of Virginia's homeland security under Govs. Jim Gilmore and Mark Warner. He was elected lieutenant governor of Virginia in 1997. Hager was the first individual with a disability to be elected to that office and is believed to be the first in any U.S. state to have been so. 

In 2001, Hager ran for governor of Virginia, but lost the Republican nomination to Virginia's then-Attorney General Mark Earley

Hager was the assistant secretary of the Department of Education's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services from 2004 to 2007. 

From 2007 to 2008, Hager served as chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia

Paul Lawrence of Marshall said of Hager’s death yesterday, “We lost one of the really good ones today. John Hager was a friend to all who knew him. And he was the first to reach across the aisle to do what was best for Virginia.” 

“He loved Fauquier and was always very appreciative of being invited to the Gold Cup.”

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