Edward “Ed” C. Hager passed away on May 10, 2020, surrounded by his wife and daughters.
He was born on May 4, 1933, in Milwaukee, to Carl C. Hager and Hazel Haberman Hager.
Ed enjoyed an idyllic childhood growing up in the small town of Jefferson.
He graduated from Jefferson High School in 1951 and then was accepted into Beloit College. He left Beloit in 1953 after being drafted into the U.S. Army during the Korean Conflict, but returned to college in 1955 and graduated in 1957 with his bachelor of arts degree. Later, Ed graduated from Michigan State with his master’s in 1966.
Sports were a central focus of Ed’s life, from childhood through his senior years. He was an extremely talented player who excelled in basketball, baseball and golf.
While serving in the Army, he captained the Third Army Baseball Tournament, taking the team to the championship. At Beloit, he earned varsity letters in all three of these sports. Ed achieved his first hole-in-one on the golf course at the age of 80!
Ed not only enjoyed sports during his school years and in his spare time, but they also were at the center of his work life. In 1957, he was hired to coach and teach at Muskegon High School in Muskegon, Mich.
For the next 10 years, he coached the Muskegon Big Reds basketball team to winning seasons, including a quarter-final finish in the State Class A finals in 1962. This accomplishment still is remembered fondly and celebrated by many in the community.
Ed relocated to Kalamazoo, Mich. in 1967 to become the freshman basketball coach at Western Michigan University. He later moved into the assistant basketball coach position. His next career move was to coach and become the athletic director at Portage Central High School.
Leaving coaching in 1975, Ed began a career in sales for Jones Sporting Goods of Muskegon, Mich. During this time, he also worked for WKZO radio, providing commentary for the WMU basketball games. He and his family moved to Grand Haven, Mich. in 1988 so that Ed could assume the role of sales manager with Jones Sporting Goods. He retired from the company in 1998.
Ed’s finest accomplishment was that of husband, father and father figure to others in his family. Ed and his wife Mary were happily married for 61 years and are the role models in marriage for many who witnessed them together.
The father to four girls, Ed could be found with his daughters growing up playing tennis, shooting hoops, riding bikes or playing board games. He never missed a sporting event, recital or performance.
The family has many fun memories of summers at Camp Waukeshma where Ed coached summer campers, and trips to Myrtle Beach, S.C. He continued to be at the center of his daughters’ lives in adulthood, always there as they pursued their own life goals.
His family always will remember him as the core of their fun and laughter, a great listener, giver of advice, supportive husband and Dad, and a humble and kind man.
Ed was a faithful Christian throughout his life and a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Kalamazoo.
He is survived by his wife, Mary Drinkard Hager; his daughters, Hettie Hager, Mary Layne (Jack) Endres, Virginia (Chris) Rakowski and Meegan (Tim) Young; his grandchildren, Drew Endres, Bryn Endres, Christian Rakowski and Nicholas Rakowski; sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law, Joy Drinkard Malmquist and husband Gary, and T.L. (Skip) Drinkard and wife Ann Lerner; nieces and nephews, Dustin Malmquist, Joshua Drinkard, Annie Dixon, Chuck Dunning, Rick Dunning, Debra Dunning and Gary Dunning.
Ed was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Joann Hager Hartwig; and brother-in-law, Dale Drinkard.
The family wishes to say a very special thank you to all the staff members at Friendship Village, who too learned what a special man Ed was, and gave him their best care and showed him such kindness in his final months.
Cremation has taken place. A private, graveside memorial will be held by the family at a later date.
Donations in Ed’s name may be made to the SPCA or the Kalamazoo Humane Society.
Visit Ed’s personal webpage at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com where you may archive a favorite memory or photo and sign his online guest book.
Arrangements are by Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo, (269) 375-2900.