POLSON — James Julius Hagen passed away on Sept. 10, 2018 in Polson of natural causes at the age of 99. Born to Nelmer and Laura (House) Hagen on Dec. 25, 1918. He was raised in Clinton. He graduated from Missoula High School in 1937.
In 1936 Jim began what would become a 46 year career with the Northern Pacific Railroad. Between 1936 and 1940 he worked summers as a section crew laborer, trying to land a permanent job with the NPRR. It was during that time he met Marjorie King Thorp who lived in Nimrod. They eloped on Nov. 29, 1939 and never looked back. They were married for 62 years.
In 1940 he eventually made the NPRR section crew laborer seniority roster. It was necessary to move his growing family wherever the job took him to further his career. They lived in many small out-of-the-way Montana locations, such as Nimrod, Avon, Quinns Hot Springs and Bearmouth in those early years. He doggedly worked his way up from section crew laborer to relief foreman and in 1945 became a Section Foreman in Clinton. He continued following the railroad as a Section Foreman to Evaro in 1958, and eventually to Arlee in 1967. Jim (known as J.J. on the railroad circuit) retired in 1981. He earned a reputation as a hard task master but also gained fierce loyalty and respect from those who worked for, and with him, on the railroad. It was hard and back-breaking work in extreme weather year-round. Jim only missed two days of work in 46 years, proof of the pride and grit he put into his years of railroading.
Jim loved hunting and fishing, not only as providing necessary food for the family in the early and tough years, but later for the enjoyment of being outdoors. He was at his happiest when he could be out in the fresh air, no matter which season of the year. He was an avid gardener during his off hours from the railroad. He and Margie started a small, and successful, greenhouse business in Arlee and developed many loyal customers for their beautiful tomato and flower plants over the years. His knowledge and love of gardening continues on in many of his grandchildren who learned it from the master. He will be fondly remembered by his family as he sat outside in a lawn chair, smoking his pipe and admiring his garden.
Jim’s love and pride of family ran very deep. He taught his children through example the results of hard work and determination throughout his life with a work ethic that is hard to find today. We have lost a great and wise man.
He was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Marjorie (Thorp) Hagen; brother, Lewis Hagen; brother, Russell Hagen; sister, Della Hagen Montelius; son, Lewis Warren Hagen and two granddaughters, Londa Lou Hagen and Barbara Hagen Fry. He is survived by his sisters Bessie Pope, Spokane, Washington; Norma Howlett, Nine Mile; and Charlene Johnson, Couer D’Alene, Idaho; sons Norm Hagen, Bigfork; Mark Hagen, Arlee ; daughters Lila Edwards, Las Vegas, Nevada; Vicki Offerdahl, Kalispell; and Michelle Hagen, Polson; 18 grandchildren; 36 great-grandchildren; 15 great-great grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews. A Memorial Service for Jim will be determined at a later date.