John and Joan Hagman met as students at St. Olaf College. John was from the Midwest, and Joan from the East Coast.
John is a native of Chicago. He has deep Lutheran roots in the Midwest, as his great grandfather was one of the founders of Bethany Lutheran Church in Ephraim, Wisconsin, north of Green Bay, a church that is celebrating a 135th anniversary this year. The church still holds services during the summer months.
John joined the Marines in 1943, and spent two years in the South Pacific, assigned to the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Bunker Hill. He was on deck May 11, 1945, when the ship was bombed by two Japanese kamikaze pilots. He was later invited to join a V-12 officer training program, and chose Yale University as the place for his program. After August 1945, when Japan surrendered, John returned to Chicago.
The pastor at his church in Chicago, Ray Farness, was a St. Olaf grad, so he recommended attending St. Olaf. John majored in social studies and economics graduating in 1949. After he and Joan were married, he earned a master’s degree in administration at New York University, where they could live with Joan’s family.
Joan’s parents were born in Norway and are both buried there, although they emigrated to Brooklyn, New York, where there was a large Norwegian community. Joan’s mother Gyda Andersen was a milliner, joining a hat company soon after coming to the U.S. Joan’s father was an electrical engineer who worked in Manhattan. Her grandmother insisted that Gyda be confirmed in Norway before emigrating, and she came to America with family friends. They joined Trinity Lutheran in Brooklyn (where incidentally Mons and Shirley Teig served) where Joan was confirmed.
After Joan graduated from high school in 1947, at her pastor’s recommendation, she and her mother took the train to Northfield and St. Olaf College, where the Norwegian Lutheran population was familiar to Joan’s family. The small town of Northfield was a big change after growing up in bustling Brooklyn, but Joan grew to like it, and there she met John. Joan majored in sociology and secondary education. When John graduated in 1949, they married, and Joan completed her college degree after the children- Karl, Deborah, David and Rebecca-were grown, at Concordia University, St. Paul. They now have ten grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
John was a history teacher and served as principal and teacher at Northwood, Iowa, and served school districts in St. Charles, Minnesota; Menomonie, Wisconsin; Faribault, Minnesota; and Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin. Finally, Hagmans moved to Mendota Heights and Henry Sibley High School, where John was principal for 19 years, retiring in 1989. John was also the first AARP Minnesota president, serving for two terms, six years.
History with Central Lutheran
John and Joan have been at Central Lutheran since February, 1990 at the urging of Rev. Paul and Dolores Hanson. They previously attended Salem Lutheran in West St. Paul. John has been president of the church council at Central Lutheran, an usher for 11 years, served on a call committee and chaired the nominating committee. Joan taught Sunday School, volunteered at the Clothes Closet, chaired the Floral Guild, ushered, and was a member of the investment club.
John and Joan are Legacy Partners with Central Lutheran Church Foundation included in their estate plan. They said, “We love Central, very simply, and the Foundation has been good to Central-it is as good a place for our money as the bank.”