Gerald Hager

Gerald "Jerry" Gayle Hager, 85, died Thursday, January 4, 2018 at his home near Castalia. Funeral Services with Military Honors were held Saturday, January 13 at Zion Lutheran Church, Castalia with Rev. Alan Wicks as the Officiant. Interment was at Bloomfield Cemetery, Castalia.

Jerry was born May 3, 1932 at the Postville Hospital, the son of Elmer and Marjorie (Kobriger) Hager. He was baptized October 31, 1932 at the Frankville Community Presbyterian Church. August 18, 1946, Rev. LaVerne Meinecke confirmed him at Zion Lutheran Church. He attended first through fifth grades at Frankville School, and transferred to Castalia in sixth grade when his family moved there. He graduated from Postville High School with the Class of 1950.

In 1952, he was inducted into the U.S. Army during the Korean War and served with the A Battery, 300th Armored Field Artillery Battalion. He was a forward observer stationed at the American Battery farthest north of the 38th parallel. After his discharge from the Army in April 1954, he started work at the Kneeskern Mink Farm.

October 3, 1954, he married his high school sweetheart, Marlys A. Meyer. Jerry hauled milk for 41-1/2 years, purchasing a can milk route in 1955 and transitioning to bulk milk in 1960. He owned and operated the Castalia school bus routes for 25 years, sold LP gas and farmed.

Jerry was an active member of Zion Lutheran Church and served several years on the church council. He volunteered on the Castalia Fire Department from 1955 to 1996. Creating the Avenue of Flags at Bloomfield and Pleasant View Cemeteries was a special project Jerry undertook in honor of his mother.

He then devoted many volunteer hours helping display the flags for patriotic holidays. The handicap entrance at Zion Lutheran Church was another special project. Jerry said God led him every step of the way in designing, drafting, overseeing and helping build the addition which was finished in 2003. Jerry also helped build the New Hope Lutheran Church in Farley and he worked with Habitat for Humanity to build several houses.

Jerry was one of the founding members of the Castalia Tractor Days committee in 1992. In 2014, Jerry and Marlys were named the Grand Marshals of that event. Many organizations benefited from his participation, including the Bloomfield Historical Society, the Bloomfield Trustees, the American Legion, the Bloomfield Cemetery Association and the Lutheran Credit Union.

Jerry was an avid collector of many things, including Allis Chalmers tractors and toy trains. He enjoyed woodworking, architecture, drawing, cookie and cake decorating, gardening and making maple syrup. He loved people and went out of his way to stay in touch with family and old friends. Meeting new folks, swapping stories, giving encouragement, joking and teasing delighted him.

He is survived by his wife, Marlys; two daughters, Gayle (Jeff) Olson of Winfield and Gloria (Loren) Wissmann of Milford, NE; one son, Gary (Jacqueline) Hager of New Vienna; 18 grandchildren: Kinsey Olson Sovern, Torey (Jason) McElroy, Ian Olson, Rachel (Alan) Busenitz, Ruth (Ryan) Bourlier, Josiah (Abi) Wissmann, Bethany (Dan) Beasley, Andrew (Kori) Wissmann, Elizabeth Wissmann, Matthias (Michelle) Wissmann, Stephen, Hannah, Susanna, Alaythia, Nathanael and Charissa Wissmann, Jordan (Danielle) Hager and Jenna (Derek) Christoffer; 14 great-grandchildren: Riley Sovern, Kendrick and Autumn Busenitz, Lee Bourlier, Joanna, Asher and Jenifer Wissmann, Arianna, Caden and Everett Beasley, Julian Hager, and Brayden, Declan and Briar Christoffer; one brother, Jack (Dellene) Hager of Postville; one sister-in-law, Margaret Hager of Muscatine; and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and one brother, Robert.

The Schutte-Grau Funeral Home and Cremation Service in Postville assisted the family. The final thought that Jerry wanted to leave with his family is this: "Love one another and stay in touch with each other."

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