John H. Hager

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

John H. Hager
Chair of the Virginia Republican Party
In office
August 1, 2007 – May 31, 2008
Preceded byEd Gillespie
Succeeded byJeff Frederick
Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
In office
November 21, 2004 – August 1, 2007
PresidentGeorge W. Bush
SecretaryRod Paige
Margaret Spellings
Preceded byRobert Pasternack
Succeeded byTracy Ralph Justesen
37th Lieutenant Governor of Virginia
In office
January 17, 1998 – January 12, 2002
GovernorJim Gilmore
Preceded byDon Beyer
Succeeded byTim Kaine
Personal details
John Henry Hager

(1936-08-28)August 28, 1936
Durham, North Carolina, U.S.
DiedAugust 23, 2020(2020-08-23) (aged 83)
Political partyRepublican
SpouseMargaret Chase Hager
EducationPurdue University (BS)
Harvard University (MBA)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army

John Henry Hager (August 28, 1936 – August 23, 2020) was an American politician who served as the 37th Lieutenant Governor of Virginia from 1998 to 2002. He was the first person with a disability to be elected to that office. He proceeded to act as an assistant secretary within the United States Department of Education from 2004 to 2007.[1] He also served as the chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia from August 2007 until May 2008.

Early life and education[edit]

Hager was born in Durham, North Carolina. He started a neighborhood newspaper in 1945.[2] While an undergraduate at Purdue University, he ran a vending machine business, was an active member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, and was a member of ROTC. One term, his course load was 25 credit hours – about two-thirds more than normal. He graduated with a BSME (mechanical engineering) in 1958. Both his parents, Virgil (1905–2002) and Ruth Rabbe Hager (1906–2000), were 1928 Purdue alumni.[3] Hager earned his MBA from Harvard Business School in 1960, and subsequently served in the United States Army, rising to the rank of captain.[4]


After his active duty military service, Hager began work for the American Tobacco Company in Richmond, Virginia. The company retired him after his bout with polio, but he returned – beginning at the bottom again. At American Tobacco, he served as a government affairs representative. Hager was forcibly retired from the American Tobacco Company after the company's sale in 1994.[2]

In 1975, he volunteered for Lieutenant Governor John N. Dalton, and in 1984 he was a delegate to the Republican National Convention. In 1994, he co-chaired the Senatorial campaign for Oliver North.[3] He ran for state party chairman in 1992,[5] and was treasurer of the state Republican Party in 1994.[6]

Hager served as the director of Virginia's homeland security under Governors Jim Gilmore and Mark Warner.[3] He was elected Lieutenant Governor of Virginia in 1997,[3] defeating Democrat Lewis F. Payne Jr.[6][7] At one of the hustings in the aforementioned election, he said, "I've met a lot of challenges in my life. It's been a trail of turning challenge into opportunity".[8] 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.[9]

Hager ran for Governor of Virginia in 2001, but lost the Republican nomination to Virginia's then Attorney General, Mark Earley.[6] The latter ultimately lost the gubernatorial election to Democrat Mark Warner. Hager went on to serve in Warner's cabinet as the state's homeland security director in the Office of Commonwealth Preparedness. This post was created in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.[8]

Hager was the Assistant Secretary of the Department of Education's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services. He was nominated to this position by President George W. Bush on May 24, 2004, and confirmed by the Senate on November 21, 2004.[4] While in office, he endeavored to finalize the Department's regulations concerning the reauthorized Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) within one year, as well as to give technical assistance to states in implementing IDEA. He also sought to enhance the Department's outreach, and advocated for transition services for individuals with disabilities to be given more attention.[10] He resigned after three years at the helm, effective August 1, 2007.[11]

In July 2007, Hager was elected to serve as chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia.[1][12] However, he was defeated for reelection by Delegate Jeff Frederick less than a year later in May 2008.[13]

Personal life[edit]

Hager married Margaret Dickinson "Maggie" Chase on February 27, 1971. The couple had two sons, John (b. 1973) and Henry (b. 1978). Hager's younger son, Henry, married Jenna Bush, the daughter of George W. Bush the 43th President of the United States, on May 10, 2008, at her parents' Prairie Chapel Ranch in Crawford, Texas.[14]

In 1973, he contracted polio when his son was vaccinated for the disease with live virus vaccine.[3] As a result, he used a non-motorized wheelchair for daily ambulation. He was known to compete in wheelchair races.[12]


Hager died on August 23, 2020, five days prior to his 84th birthday. Governor Ralph Northam ordered state flags to be flown at half-staff until sunset on September 2.[6][15]


  • American Legion[12]
  • Chairman, Disability Commission[10][16]
  • vice-chmn. Gov.'s Commn. on Transp. Policy[17]
  • bd. dir., vice-chair Aerospace State Assn.[18]
  • Director, President, Sorensen Institute of Political Leadership[18]
  • Finance Committee, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts[19]
  • past pres., trustee, exec. com. Children's Hosp.[3]

Honors and awards[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Marquis Who's Who TM. Marquis Who's Who Reproduced in Biography Resource Center (2008). John Henry Hager (Fee). Farmington Hills, Michigan: Gale. Retrieved April 17, 2008. Document Number: K2014485169
  2. ^ a b HEYSER, HOLLY A. (September 22, 1997). "HAGER IS SEEN AS TOLERANT, WITH A MIND OF HIS OWN". The Virginian-Pilot. Norfolk, Virginia. p. A1. Archived from the original on June 8, 2011. Retrieved April 18, 2008.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "John H. Hager – 2007 Distinguished Engineering Alumni". College of Engineering. Purdue University. 2007. Retrieved August 23, 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Archived: John H. Hager, Assistant Secretary, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services—Biography". U.S. Department of Education. August 14, 2007. Retrieved April 17, 2008. He served in the U.S. oArmy and the Army Reserves, rising to the rank of captain. He is a member of the American Legion. A lifelong athlete, he has also competed in many wheelchair races.
  5. ^ WEINTRAUB, KAREN (October 13, 1997). "LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR HOPEFUL TAKES NEW TACK ON LAKE GASTON..." The Virginian-Pilot. Landmark Communications, Inc. p. A1. Archived from the original on June 8, 2011. Retrieved April 18, 2008. John H. Hager ... in 1992 ... ran for state party chairman ...
  6. ^ a b c d Schapiro, Jeff E.; Cain, Andrew (August 23, 2020). "Former Lt. Gov. John H. Hager dies at 83". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved August 23, 2020.
  7. ^ Hsu, Spencer S.; Nakashima, Ellen (May 15, 1997). "The Scramble to Woo Northern Virginia". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 23, 2020.
  8. ^ a b "John Hager, Virginia lieutenant governor, dies at 83". The Washington Post. August 24, 2020. Retrieved August 25, 2020.
  9. ^ Moore, John, ed. (December 16, 2013). Elections A to Z. Routledge. p. 230. ISBN 9781135938703.
  10. ^ a b Samuels, Christina A. (March 29, 2005). "Hager Is Strictly Business in Special Education Role". Education Week. Retrieved August 24, 2020.
  11. ^ "Board of Directors". VeteransNavigator. Archived from the original on August 24, 2020. Retrieved August 23, 2020.
  12. ^ a b c "Meet the RPV Chairman – Republican Party of Virginia". Republican Party of Virginia. Retrieved April 17, 2008.
  13. ^ "Frederick unseats Hager". Richmond Times Dispatch. Retrieved May 31, 2008.[dead link]
  14. ^ "Jenna Bush gets engaged". August 16, 2007. Archived from the original on January 21, 2008. Retrieved April 17, 2008.
  15. ^ Gov. Northam orders flags at half-staff in honor of former Virginia Lt. Governor John Hager
  16. ^ "John H. Hager – 2013 Outstanding Mechanical Engineers". College of Engineering. Purdue University. 2013. Retrieved August 24, 2020.
  17. ^ "Virginia Politics: With Lt. Gov. John H. Hager". The Washington Post. May 8, 2001. Retrieved August 24, 2020.
  18. ^ a b "Richmond Past Honorees". Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities. Retrieved August 24, 2020.
  19. ^ "Minutes of the Executive & Governance Committee Meeting" (PDF). Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. June 12, 2015. Retrieved August 24, 2020.
  20. ^ "Archived: John H. Hager Assumes Duties as Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services". U.S. Department of Education. December 6, 2004. Retrieved April 18, 2008. Hager ... holds honorary degrees from Averett College in Danville, Va., Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, Va., and the University of Northern Virginia in Manassas.
  21. ^ Allen, Mike (July 14, 1997). "A Wheelchair Race for Candidate". The Washington Post. p. B01. Retrieved August 24, 2020.
  22. ^ "Alumni Awards". Durham Academy. Retrieved August 24, 2020.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Lieutenant Governor of Virginia
January 17, 1998 – January 14, 2002
Succeeded by