This week saw the passing of Rev. Frederick Hagen, 88, who died Thursday, June 21, 2012, at his Burnsville home after a lengthy battle with cancer. The date of his death coincided with the 48th anniversary of his ordination in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.
"Fred preached the good news of the Christmas Child to the world. He rests now in the arms of the Baby Jesus. God bless the life and ministry of Fred Hagen," Bishop Harold Usgaard wrote in a blog to members of the Southeastern Minnesota Synod. "Thanks be to God."
Hagen was born Nov. 12, 1923, in Toledo, Ohio, to Henry and Margaret (Hahn) Hagen. He grew up in an orphanage—Lutheran Orphans’ Home in Toledo, Ohio—after his mother died when he was nine months old. He was the youngest child ever placed in the home.
He lived at the Lutheran Orphans’ Home until the age of 18, when he joined the Merchant Marines on the Great Lakes. During World War II, he entered the U.S. Navy, serving on the USS Missouri.
After serving in the armed forces, he returned to the Orphans’ Home to work. It was there that he met Dorothy Weckwerth of New Richland, MN, a fellow employee at the orphanage who would become his wife. The two were married May 24, 1950, in New Richland. They raised four children during their life.
Hagen worked a variety of jobs in southern Minnesota before he decided to go into the ministry. He graduated from Austin Junior College in 1960 and Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa, in 1964. He served as pastor at three parishes: East Norway Lake Lutheran and First Norway Lake Lutheran churches near New London, MN; Grace Lutheran Church of Elmore, Ohio, and St. Mark’s Lutheran Church of Graytown, Ohio; and Bethlehem Lutheran near Myrtle, MN, and Deer Creek Valley Lutheran.
In his memorial post, Bishop Usgaard also recalled a touching scene from Hagen's later life—during the Christmas of 2003. Hagen addressed the bishop and his staff, describing a moment when he was watching the world through a patio door decorated with see-through Nativity scene.
“As I sit in my chair I can see the world on the other side, but I see the world now through the Christmas Scene. I can ignore the Christmas Scene if I choose. And I can ignore the world if I choose," Hagen said. "But I choose to see the world at this time through the Christmas Story because they do belong together you understand.”
Hagen is survived by his wife of 62 years, Dorothy, their four children, and many grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents; brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Bernard and Mabel Weckwerth; brother-in-law, Arnold Hanson; brother-in-law, David Ide; and sister-in-law, Lois Miller.
Hagen's funeral took place on Monday, June 25, 2012 at in Burnsville. He was buried at the Hillcrest Cemetery in Albert Lea.
Those who wish to honor Hagen are asked to send memorials to LHS Family & Youth, Lutheran Homes Society, 2021 N. McCord Road, Toledo, OH 43615-3030.