(Published originally in the Spring 2011 issue of Berea College Magazine.)
by Lindsay Roe, ’14
April 10, 2011, was a special day for a special supporter of Berea. On this day, Earl Hager, ’32, West Virginia native and alumnus of the Berea Foundation School and Academy, celebrated his 102nd birthday. When congratulated for his long, healthy and eventful life, he comments, “I don’t know if I’m your oldest alumnus, but I’m sure enough the oldest person in all the stuff I do around here!” Earl has certainly been involved in a lot of “stuff,” if this is how one should properly categorize his lifetime of service, vigor and generosity.
Earl has worked as a teacher, administrator and served consecutive two-year terms as a lifetime member of the West Virginia Legislature. He played an influential role in passing a bill which increased the salaries of teachers and principals in West Virginia – an alien concept to a world so used to cutting education funding. He credits Berea for the enthusiasm and diligence he puts into his work. “Berea taught me how to get along with people,” he says simply. Berea – with its friendly campus, gifted professors and rigorous labor program – helped him overcome his boyhood shyness and discover a career in politics. Because of Berea’s influence on his life, Earl is a strong supporter of the College. His generosity, as well as his community service, has provided Earl with a century-long success story. Berea could not be more grateful or proud of his achievements.