SSV: Best Seat in the House

The Honorable John Henry Hager speaking at The Center in Charlottesville.

Former Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, The Honorable John Hager, talks about his career in politics.

John Henry Hager is an American entrepreneur and politician who served as the chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, assistant secretary of the Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services, and the director of Virginia’s homeland security under Governors Jim Gilmore and Mark Warner.

Hager was born in Durham, North Carolina. He started a neighborhood newspaper in 1945. While an undergraduate at Purdue University he ran a vending machine business, was an active member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, and was a member of ROTC. One term, his course load was 25 credit hours – about two thirds more than normal. He graduated with a BSME (mechanical engineering) in 1958. Hager earned his MBA at Harvard and subsequently served in the United States Army, rising to the rank of captain.

In 1973 he contracted polio when his son was vaccinated for the disease with live virus vaccine. As a result, he uses a non-motorized wheelchair for daily ambulation – and competes in wheelchair races.

After his active duty military service, Hager began work for the American Tobacco Company in Richmond, Virginia. The company retired him after his bout with polio, but he returned – beginning at the bottom again. At American Tobacco, he served as a government affairs representative. Hager was forcibly retired from the American Tobacco Company after the company’s sale in 1994.

Hager is married to Margaret Dickinson “Maggie” Chase and they have two sons, John and Henry. Henry is married to former President George W. Bush’s daughter, Jenna.

Mr. Hager spoke at the Wednesday December 12, 2019 meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia. The meeting was held at The Center in Charlottesville. Following the presentation, questions were taken from the audience. The program was moderated by SSV Past President Bob McGrath.