|Birth: ||Apr. 24, 1923|
|Death: ||Aug. 8, 2010|
----70 years ago, December 16, 1944, Battle of the Bulge----
My father, Eugene Wellington Haag passed away at 2:57 p.m. Sunday Aug. 8, 2010 at St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington, Illinois. Dad had suffered a stroke on Friday afternoon, two days before.
All six of his children were by his side, holding his hands, whispering in his ear, and loving him.
Dad was born April 24, 1923, in Cullom, IL, son of Verna I. Keck and Leonard Haag. He was raised by his grandparents, Ina and Newton Keck, after his parents divorced when he and his brother were toddlers.
Dad's middle name, he always told those who asked, was for the Duke of Wellington. The name has been passed down on Dad's England-born maternal side for 10 generations. Dad was proud when I middle-named my own son Wellington. This year, 2013, my son and his wife middle-named their new son Wellington.
He married the love of his life, Laura Mae Baehler, on June 12, 1948, in Las Vegas, Nev. She preceded him in death May 8, 1999. Dad visited our Mom's grave regularly, and missed her like crazy. He once said that the first time he saw Mom at age 8, there was never another girl for him. Together, they now look over us from Heaven.
My Dad graduated from Saunemin High School and attended New York City College while he was in the service.
Dad served our country in the U.S. Army during World War II, from 1942 until 1945. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal. The Battle of the Bulge was a ferocious encounter in the final stages of World War II. In desperation, Adolf Hitler ordered a massive attack on allied forces in the Ardennes, in southern Belgium. The Nazis hoped the surprise attack would reach the sea at the Belgian port of Antwerp and cut off the advancing allied armies. Bastogne, a market town that was also a critical road junction, was quickly besieged.
The snow was as high as the trees during the December battle. Dad recalled taking cover in a chicken coop, the terrible cold, and non-existent food for days on end. The Battle of the Bulge was fought during one of the most brutally cold winters on record in Europe.
The U.S. troops — led by paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division — found themselves surrounded. But they resisted fiercely, and the key crossroads was never taken.
When all was said and done, Dad lost nearly every Army buddy he had. More than 80,000 American soldiers were killed, captured or wounded during this epic battle.
Dad never spoke much about his service, and it was only after his death we discovered what he had done to earn his medal. We are proud of our father's military service, as was he. He told me shortly before he died "if I can get through the Battle of the Bulge, I can get through anything." He was long-time member of our local American Legion Post, the VFW, and the 40 & 8.
My father never took a day off from work, ever. His work ethic was strong, and he expected nothing less of his children. His stern exterior hid a soft heart.
My father was the mayor of our hometown for more than 25 years. He was proud of our little town and the things he did to make it better.
He liked to hunt, was a crack shot, and we were expected to eat whatever game he brought to the table. Dad was an excellent cook.
He was a master fisherman, and took trips to Canada for over 50 years, to fish for Walleye and Northern. He later went on Alaskan cruises for Salmon. Mom accompanied Dad on these fishing trips, and became an excellent fisherman as well. Fish filled our freezers, and Dad was well-known for his huge fish fries. They became big family events for years. He and Mom loved having all the kids and grand kids home for a legendary fish fry.
I became very close to my Dad after our Mom died in 1999. I moved closer to him, and he and I did a lot more together than we'd ever been able to do before. He came with me to the hospital when his great grandchildren were born, and even drove one of them home from the hospital with the new parents. He had a 4WD SUV, and it was a snowy day, so... Dad to the rescue!
A month before Dad died, we spent one whole afternoon working on my lawn mower. We finally gave up, and went to Sears and he bought me a new one. He admonished me to keep the old mower, because "we never know when we might need it for parts." Then of course, he insisted on trying it out. So together, we walked along, mowing strips in my front lawn. I treasure that time, and wish there had been more of it.
For some reason, I never imagined my Dad could ever die, and then he surprised me...
We all miss him.
Leonard Lewis Haag (1902 - 1986)
Verna Iona Keck Fritz (1903 - 1995)
Laura Mae Baehler Haag (1923 - 1999)*
Eugene Wellington Haag (1923 - 2010)
Duane Olin Haag (1924 - 2002)*
Pleasant Ridge Cemetery
Maintained by: MidwestMom
Originally Created by: AnneBoleynTudor
Record added: Aug 10, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 56873616