Kent Albert Hager, 66, of New London, WI, died peacefully at home surrounded by his immediate family on October 3, 2019, after a brief but tumultuous battle with cancer.
He was born on April 2, 1953, in Bloomington, IL, to George and Lois (Swansbro) Hager of Dwight, IL. The second of four children, he spent his childhood and early working years in Dwight. He attended the Dwight Township public schools and graduated in 1971. He attended Hanover College in Madison, IN, receiving an M.S. degree in economics in 1975. While at Hanover, he joined the Sigma Chi - Chi Chapter fraternity and became a Life Loyal Sig in 1988. One of Kent’s favorite stories is recounting the details about the tornado that ripped through the campus on his 21st birthday. A course involving small town economic analysis spurred his interest in city planning, and this led to his 41-year public service career in city and county government.
A lifelong worker and public servant, Kent returned to Dwight briefly to work at the RR Donnelley commercial printing plant to pay for his tuition for graduate school at Florida State University, where he earned an M.S. degree in urban and regional planning in 1975. During his time in Florida, Kent worked for the regional planning council in Ocala before accepting a position as a senior planner for the San Luis Valley Council of Governments in Alamosa, CO. In this capacity he honed his grant writing skills to obtain state and federal funds for a variety of projects. He served as a circuit-rider city manager to four small SLV communities: Center, Creede, Manassa and Saguache. In 1985 he was hired as the city-county-land use administrator for Creede and Mineral County, where he remained until 1995.
In 1988 he married Callie Cochran, and they have raised two daughters. A newly-formed county administrator position for Lake County drew him to Leadville, CO, where he worked for four years. In 1999 he and his family moved to New London, where he served as the city administrator until his retirement in May of this year. He is a lifetime member of the International City County Management Association, Rotary International, and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, Creede Chapter No. 506.
Kent’s pastimes often involved being out on the open road and meeting new people. He enjoyed flying glider planes and attending numerous Indianapolis and Daytona 500 races, Road America events at Elkhart Lake, the Iola Car Show, and the Symco Shakedown. A perfect day included riding his classic 1950 Harley Davidson 45 Flathead on winding county roads or hopping in his MG Midget for a trip to Keller Park or Tustin. He loved live music and exploring hole-in-the-wall taverns off the beaten path. He was an amazing cook who enjoyed taking risks with spices and condiments. Kent enjoyed hearing and telling stories, but he avoided gossip and malicious conversations, asking why people couldn’t just get along with one another.
He was a member of the Dwight United Methodist Church, the Leadville Presbyterian Church, and the New London First Congregational United Church of Christ.
Kent is preceded in death by his nephew, Jeffrey G. Neville, of Carrollton, Texas; his mother, Lois A. Hager, of Dwight; and his older brother, Scott R. Hager, of Dwight. He is survived by his wife, Callie Cochran-Hager of the home; two daughters, Quinn Elizabeth (special friend Josh Ewert) and Erin Beth; his father, George Hager, of Dwight; two sisters, Martha (Tom) Neville of Carrollton, TX, and Cynthia (John) Downey of Geneva, IL; two nephews, Thomas Neville and Cole Downey, and one niece, Margot Downey.
A memorial service will be held at 5:00 p.m. on Monday, October 7, 2019 at The First Congregational United Church of Christ in New London, Wisc. with Rev. Greg Watling officiating. Visitation will be at the church on Monday from 3:00 p.m. until the time of the service.
In lieu of flowers, please consider contributing to the American Hemochromatosis Society or the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation.