Those Sterling School Pioneers, then aged 14-18, who passed through Sterling School together between 1958 and 1964 have been the beneficiaries of memories of people whose humanity and character have proved to be unforgettable for us all in these succeeding years.

Our Sterling School nurse, Ginny Hagen was such a person.

Ginny Hagen

The transcendent value of our memories of her easily vanquishes the assumption that the past is gone forever. The truth is that our past memories of her stand completely alone in the present.

Such were our feelings when we first learned that Ginny Hagen, RN – our nurse at Sterling School – had died at a nursing home in Newport, Vermont, at the age of 95 on March, 19, 2021. Immediately thereafter various Sterling School Pioneers emailed in their memories.

John Adams ‘61 remembers “A beautiful, warm, and loving person to all of us in her years at Sterling. Some will remember the infamous Echo-9 flu that cloistered many of those affected … the state almost shut us down … Nurse Hagen was at her best working with the state and taking care of us who were sick… Nurse Hagen was a surrogate mom to us all. She will be remembered.”

David Behrend ‘60 recalled “A distinctively warm presence – she had an aura of goodness, a spirit that I can never forget. The students gravitated to the infirmary to bask in her warmth – to cure their homesickness.”

Denny Rossiter ‘60 wrote “To this day, like many of you, I have very fond memories of Ginny and was happy to see that she lived a long and happy life. The Pioneers tribute is a wonderful idea and certainly fitting for a person we all hold dear in our memories.”

Ned Druehl ’61 remembers Ginny’s “endless hours … tending to my various sports maladies as well … when many of us were inflicted with that virus, Echo-9. I always felt she was a caring and motherly figure with tremendous empathy. We were lucky to have her.”

Like the rest of you, I had the good fortune to benefit from Nurse Hagen’s care in the infirmary – always “Nurse Hagen’s infirmary” for me.

As you will remember everybody was Mr. or Mrs. or Miss during our school years and the first time I called her Ginny was at a reunion 40 years after my graduation in October 2003. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I felt awkward calling her by her first name.

I shall also never forget that in October 2008, at Sterling School’s 50th reunion, I—along with, Ted Hine ’63, Jon Goodrich ‘63, and Dick Lieber ’61—had the good fortune to have Ginny as our guide when we toured the Craftsbury cemetery in her hometown. We heard her very interesting thoughts, spoken in her wistful and soft manner, of the lives of her friends buried there who were obviously very much still alive in Ginny’s heart as she spoke of them.

And so, Ginny will remain alive in our hearts in much the same way. She will be with us in spirit. We will recall her gentle soul, her kindness, her goodness, and–above all–her protective maternal care for the young men under her charge long ago at the Sterling school. When we call her to mind, we will once again feel the protective care of our irreplaceable Nurse Ginny Hagen, whom we lament today on the sad occasion of her death.

Peter Albert McKay – Sterling School Class of 1963

The Sterling School Pioneer Community sends its sincere and respectful condolences to the entire Hagen family for the death of their Virginia Hagen, our beloved nurse. Her full obituary can be found here.


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