Published On: Fri, Oct 15th, 2021

‘Bill’ Hager, former Boca City Council member and state rep, dies at age 74

By Dale King

A memorial service will be held Monday morning in Detroit Lakes, Minn., for William Dean “Bill” Hager, 74, a former member of the Boca Raton City Council and eight-year member of the Florida House of Representatives from the Boca-Delray area, who died Wednesday, Oct. 13 at Sanford Health in Fargo, N.D.

His lengthy career included jobs as a teacher, an expert trial witness and a lawyer. He arrived in Boca Raton in 1990 and 12 years later, won a term on the City Council.  He would continue to serve on that board for six years and was Deputy Mayor in 2004 and 2005.

He served a total of eight years in the Florida House of Representatives, beginning as the rep from District 87 and continuing in the realigned District 89.  His service spanned the period from 2010 to 2018.

“I am deeply saddened by the news of the passing of my friend,” said state Rep. Mike Caruso, R-District 89, who succeeded Hager. 

“Not only was he a great friend, but he lived his life in service to our community. He will be dearly missed. My condolences go out to his wife, Martha, and the rest of his family.”

Caruso’s office said a memorial service for the late representative will be held at a later date in the Boca Raton area.  The Detroit Lakes Tribune obituary says Monday’s memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. at the David-Donehower Funeral Home in Detroit Lakes. A visitation will be held one hour prior to the service.

Born in Pipestone, Minn., in 1947, Bill was a son of World War II veteran Robert and Harriet (Call) Hager. While on the City Council, Bill often joked about being from Iowa – a state that gave Boca two other sitting council members at the time, including then-Mayor Steven Abrams, who was born in Iowa, but raised in Philadelphia.  Bill moved to Iowa later.

Mr. Hager was an outstanding public speaker and graduated from Sheldon, Iowa, High School in 1965. In addition to earning a Bachelor of Arts Degree in mathematics from the University of Northern Iowa in 1969, he obtained a master’s degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Hawaii in 1972 and a Juris Doctor from the University of Illinois in 1974.

President of Insurance Metrics Corp., which provided expert witness and reinsurance arbitration service, Mr. Hager also practiced law. He was licensed as an attorney in Iowa, Illinois and Florida, and also taught math at Kalakaua Intermediate School in Honolulu, Hawaii, from 1970 to 1972.

Bill Hager was a longtime public servant, holding several different positions during his career. He was an Iowa assistant attorney general, first deputy commissioner for the Iowa Insurance Department, Iowa Insurance Commissioner from 1986 to 1990 and was also a member of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners during that same period.

After serving six years on the Boca City Council, Hager headed north to Tallahassee. When incumbent State Rep. Adam Hasner was unable to seek re-election in 2010 due to term limits, Hager succeed him in the 87th District. He won the Republican primary uncontested and faced and defeated Hava Holzhauer, an assistant state’s attorney, in the general election. The Palm Beach Post endorsed Hager over Holzhauer.

In 2012, when the state’s legislative districts were redrawn, Hager was moved into the 89th District, which included most of the territory he had previously held in the 87th District. He faced a challenge from Tom Gustafson, the Democratic nominee and former state rep who was also an ex-Speaker of the House. The Sun Sentinel endorsed Hager, praising him as “a knowledgeable, open and accessible lawmaker.” He ultimately won the seat and held it until he was term-limited in 2018.

Bill was appointed president and chief executive officer of the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) and served as a voluntary board member of Boca Raton Regional Hospital from 1995 to 2004.

Mr. Hager married Martha Araujo on Sept. 13, 2013, at Georgetown Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. He attended the United Methodist Church in Vergas, Minn., and Advent Lutheran Church in Boca Raton.

A lover of college sports, he also enjoyed spending time at the lake.

Besides his wife, he is survived by daughters Mackenzie (Andy Mounter) Hager and Madison (Gabe) Weinstein; siblings James (Diana) Hager, Jeff Hager (Pat Hardie) and Barbara Hager (Greg Garmen).

In lieu of cards or gifts, the family asks that donations be given to United Methodist Church in Vergas or their favorite charity.

Also, memorial gifts may be made in Mr. Hager’s memory in honor of Dr. Neal Patel to Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., for Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis and Hypersensitive Pneumonitis research. Visit https://philanthropy.mayo clinic.org/donatemc.

The David-Donehower Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.

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