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Published May 09, 2013, 12:00 AM

Dr. Jerome P. Hager

Dr. Jerome P. Hager, 89, Coon Valley, WI, died Saturday, May 4, 2013 in The VA Medical Center of Tomah, WI.

Jerome P. Hager, M.D. Ph.D. was born July 15, 1923, the youngest of 7 children, to Martin A. and Nekoline Hager in Northgate, N.D. First and foremost, he was an accomplished trombonist, his mother allowed “Jerry” his Saturday night “Jerinites” dance band gigs only if he sang every Sunday at United Lutheran Church where he was confirmed. In 1941 he graduated from Central High School with dreams of medical school.

Dr. Jerome P. Hager

Dr. Jerome P. Hager, 89, Coon Valley, WI, died Saturday, May 4, 2013 in The VA Medical Center of Tomah, WI.

Jerome P. Hager, M.D. Ph.D. was born July 15, 1923, the youngest of 7 children, to Martin A. and Nekoline Hager in Northgate, N.D. First and foremost, he was an accomplished trombonist, his mother allowed “Jerry” his Saturday night “Jerinites” dance band gigs only if he sang every Sunday at United Lutheran Church where he was confirmed. In 1941 he graduated from Central High School with dreams of medical school.

Jerry was united in marriage to Donna Mae Peterson on February 14, 1944 in El Paso, TX where he served as Special Agent with the Counter-Intelligence Corps of the United States Army from 1943 to 1946. During that time the base received a request for a trombonist from Louis Armstrong’s band so they sent Jerry who was so nervous he went early and sat back stage to “warm up my lips”. Little did he know, Louis was listening and came backstage to personally ask him to play first chair!

Although Jerry’s education was interrupted by military service, he and Donna returned to Grand Forks, University of North Dakota (UND) campus to live in the “tin huts” (married student housing). Jerry was a member of Apha Tau Omega Fraternity and graduated with honors (Kappa Kappa Psi, Phi Rho Sigma and Sigma Xi) earning a Bachelors (1949) and a Masters (1953) in Science with an emphasis on Pharmacology. They relocated to Denver, CO where Jerry earned a Ph. D. in Phamacology from the University of Colorado School of Medicine in 1956. With one child in tow the couple moved to Winston-Salem, NC where Jerry, “went through medical school with a trombone in one hand and a peanut butter sandwich in the other”. He graduated with his Medical Doctorate from Bowman Gray, now University of Wake Forest School of Medicine in 1958 where he remained actively involved with classmates and the Medical School Foundation until his death.

After experiencing the challenges of solo practice in Hankinson, N.D. where the family grew to 3 children, Jerry decided to pursue psychiatric medicine in Cherokee, IA. He graduated from the University of Iowa School of Medicine, Mental Health Institute in 1967. The family then settled in Fargo, ND where Dr. Hager practiced psychiatry with The Neuropsychiatric Institute (TNI), St. Lukes and St. Ansgar Hospitals. Jerry and Donna enjoyed entertaining professional colleagues, friends and family. Thanksgiving and Christmas were special times in the Hager household and summers were greatly enjoyed by all “at the lake”.

After his divorced in 1979, Dr. Hager practiced briefly in Houston, TX and then joined the United States Air Force as Psychiatrist, Lt. Col., MC which brought him to March Air Force Base, Riverside, CA. After an honorable discharge in 1981 he remained in CA practicing General and Biological Psychiatry in Riverside, CA until 1993. “Doc” Hager then relocated to Coon Valley, WI to take an active role in raising his first grandson.

The list of honors, society memberships, teaching activities and publications is extensive. Dr. Hager put his trombone talents to use throughout his life, from his own “Jerinites” dance band, to the “Scrubs” of TNI who entertained all within earshot on Lake Melissa. He took the instrument and his “typewriter” on every family vacation and ‘sat in’ anytime there was a band playing! In addition, Dr. Hager had a lifelong commitment to the Shriners, marching in parades and supporting fundraising efforts for their hospitals by playing with the Shrine Circus Band in ND, NC, IA, CO, TX, CA and WI.

Jerome was preceded in death by his parents, former wife, Donna, his sisters, Norma (Bruce) Handley, Evelyn (Gene) Hill his brothers Alf (ida), Oz (Helen), Harold (Harriet), and Conrad (Francis) Hager. He is survived by his children Nickijo Hager, Westby, WI; Jerome Hager, Jr., Detroit Lakes, MN and Eric (Liz) Hager, Fargo. And his grandchildren, Kelsey J. Harper, PsyD. (Jen Harrigan), Chicago, IL, Mianna E.. and Lars E. Hager, Fargo.

Funeral Services will be (please note amended service time)10:30 AM Saturday, May 11, 2013 in United Lutheran Church of Grand Forks, ND. Visitation will be for the hour before the service in the church. Burial will be in Memorial Park Cemetery of Grand Forks, ND. Arrangements are with Amundson Funeral Home of Grand Forks, ND. www.amundsonfuneralhome.com

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