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Gary David Hagen

March 19, 1946 - October 7, 2021

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Fred Huber

Before Gary David Hagen departed after seventy-five years on this Earth on October 7, 2021, his daughter tousled his hair to make sure he was presentable before joining his many loved ones waiting patiently for him in heaven at Camp Woopie Doo. Gary lived by the mantra, “better to look good than to feel good”, and he thanked god every day that his wife of over 50 years, Ellen Marie Hagen (McKeon), his four children, Mary Kathleen Hagen-Belli, Gary David Hagen II, Cynthia Lucia Somma, Christopher Paul Hagen, and his twelve grandchildren, Meghan, Ellen, Christopher, Gary, Steven, Quinn, Gabriel, Mark, Audrey, Maggie, Emily, and Noah, were so good looking.

Gary’s life began on March 19, 1946. He was born to Oscar and Ingeborg Hagen (Sonderstrom) and grew up alongside his two brothers and three sisters near Prospect Park in Brooklyn, NY. By all accounts, his family did not have an abundance of money, but from the beginning he had an abundance of love for others and grit. After Gary spent the best three years of his life in the fourth grade, he went on to graduate from the school of hard knocks. From a young age he learned to hustle on the streets with his friends singing doo-wop on corners and polishing shoes. By his mid-twenties, Gary had started his own plumbing business which he owned for more than thirty years. Over the years, Gary built a loyal client base by making genuine connections with people and consistently demonstrating integrity in his business practices. When his sons were old enough, they began working alongside him learning the trade and how to run a business. Using the skills they had learned from him, they both eventually went on to start their own businesses.

Gary met his wife, Ellen, when he was twenty-four. When he gave his number to Ellen his friends bet that she would not call, but Ellen and Gary both felt an instant spark and that spark ignited a love that has only grown over time. A year after they met, Ellen and Gary were married and began to raise their children together in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn. On the weekends, Gary would take his children to fly kites on Shore Road, hang out on the beach, or go ice skating and would let Ellen get her beauty rest in at home. Every summer, no matter how poor they were, Gary and Ellen would take their children to upstate to spend the days swimming in Lake George and nights singing around the campfire. Gary made sure to teach his children many lessons over the years, such as the essentiality of breakfast, how to run the table, but most importantly how to be a good husband and father.

His children went on to carry those lessons with them in their lives and passed them on to his grandchildren. Gary never forgot to tell his grandchildren exactly where their good looks came from, and how proud he was of them and their accomplishments. Whenever they would come to visit him and Ellen at their home in Catskill, NY, he would fill their stomachs with his famous mac and cheese, krumkake, and lobscouse; and every year on their birthdays, Ellen would call the grandchildren and Gary would jump in and start singing happy birthday to them with his signature doo-wop twist.

Gary will be deeply missed by anyone that knew him. Throughout his life his propensity to do more for others than himself, value relationships more than material goods, and balance kindness with (sometimes brutal) honesty has paid dividends in friendship and love.

Relatives and friends may call 2-6PM Monday at Traver & McCurry Funeral Home, 234 Jefferson Heights, Catskill. Funeral services will be held 11 AM Tuesday at the funeral home. Interment will be at the Town of Catskill Cemetery.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1


(3) comments

Lynn Olds

What can I say that hasnt already been expressed by so many. Uncle G was always the one you loved to be around. You just couldnt help but smile. It eases my heart now in knowing that he is now with his favorite sister Ca Ca in heaven and I can see them dancing together and he sings to her. His strong ties for family unity was one thing I was always a little jealous of and I always looked forward to the times of going to Brooklyn to be a part of that love. You will be dearly missed and thoughts and memories of you will always be filled with happiness and a smile will always end up as a result. Lobe you Uncle G!!!!


My Dearest Uncle G (dad)

Today we lost our uncle G. Uncle G was a man who helped me through my terrible teenage years. He made sure I stayed in line and took me on as another son. His punishment came with a lecture and a bunch of love. I grew up with 4 sisters and a mom, no man in my life other then my Uncle G. 4 beautiful cousins Cindy, Gary, Mary and Christopher. They are all amazing and grew up in the loving arms of my aunt Ellen and Uncle G . My Uncle G taught so much and is a big part of the man I am today. He always said “ life is is given to you freely, but the rest you must earn”.

Prayers needed for my (mom)Aunt Ellen she is going through a tuff battle with the cancer and just lost her entire world I spoke with her few minutes ago she is devastated and said “Unlce G loved you Nicky thought of you as a son, Nicky I just lost my right and left hand”. Prays and much love is needed today as I close another chapter of my journey.

Godspeed Uncle G


It was my privilege to know Gary. He taught me and my son much, how to be a good neighbor, how to appreciate the cornerbar and how to use a weedwacker. At the end of the lesson there was a treat, sometimes a portion or two of the famous Mac and Cheese. There is no one like Gary was, helpful, kind, never meeting a man he didn‘t like. I am shocked and devastated that he is gone. I‘m proud to have known him. What a beautiful soul. He made bitesized treats to feed the deer, cut little pieces of apple up and always, always had a heart for animals. He never let things get him down, didn‘t complain, didn‘t judge. You will always be in my heart, Gary.

Susi, your neighbor and friend.

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