Obituary: Erwin ‘Sonny’ Hagen

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Erwin “Sonny” Martin Hagen, 79, of Carmichael, passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family, on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2006 of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather and friend, humanitarian, conservationist, artist and writer, and he inspired many people, young and old, throughout his life.

Mr. Hagen was born May 12, 1927 in Evanston, Ill., to Erwin Martin and Esther Marie Swanson Hagen. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II, enlisting in 1945 at age 17.

He received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of New Mexico in 1952 and a master’s degree in education administration from San Diego State University in 1960.

He was a distinguished educator, teacher and principal in Northern and Southern California for 42 years. He was a master teacher/mentor for National University, a consultant/coordinator with the State Department of Education’s head Start/Follow Through programs in disadvantaged areas, and recipient of a California Lifetime Teaching Credential for primary grades through college and university.

Mr. Hagen served as principel of Idyllwild Elementary School from 1968 to 1970.

He belonged to Delta Sigma Phi, the Elks Club of Carmichael and the Alzheimer’s Aid Society of Northern California. He was chair and lay leader of Portola Community Methodist Church from 1964 to 1967. He also was active in professional administration and teachers’ associations, serving in several capacities.

In 1982, President Ronald Reagan, Mrs. Randolph Hearst and the Hearst Foundation presented an award of recognition for coordinating California’s State Senate program for youth to Mr. Hagen.

A celebration of life was held at 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10 at the Atria-El Camino Gardens, Club Room, 2440 Garfield Ave., Carmichael/Sacramento.

He is survived by his best friend and wife of 56 years Constance Bechtel Hagen of Sacramento; daughter Susan-Marie Hagen and husband Jim Biller of Pacifica; sons Charles Hagen of Orangevale/Sacramento, and Eric Hagen and wife Jodie of McCall, Idaho; grandchildren Carrie Viarnes of Inglewood, James Eowan and wife Kim Harrison of Glendale, Greg Eowan of Huntington Beach, Dondra and Briana Biller of San Diego, Crystal, Curtis and Chad Hagen and wife Carol of Orangevale/Sacramento, and Hunter Hagen of McCall, Idaho; and many cousins in Illinois and California.

Brother James Charles Hagen and his parents preceded him in death.

In lieu of flowers, the Hagen family asks that donations be made in his memory to the Feather River Land Trust, Attn: Paul Hardy, Executive Director, P.O. Box 1826, Quincy, CA 95971. All gifts will fund the Erwin Hagen Nature Area located in the mountains he loved so much and close to the elementary school where he taught in Portola. A memorial picnic and nature area dedication will be held in Portola in summer 2007 with family, friends, students, the community and the Feather River Land Trust. For details, call (530) 283-5758.

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