Former Aurora Supervisor Henry J. Hager Jr., a prominent local builder and community leader, died Saturday under hospice care in Mercy Hospital after a brief illness. He was 83.
Mr. Hager was born and raised in Buffalo and graduated from Bennett High School.
He attended Brown University before serving in the Army in the Korean War. He received an honorable discharge and later graduated from the University of Buffalo.
In the 1950s, Mr. Hager partnered with his father, Henry J. Hager Sr., to run the family business, known as HJ Hager & Sons.
His father, now deceased, had started the family business in Buffalo in the early 1920s, but family members said it folded during the Depression.
His father later decided to start over in East Aurora, where he bought land and again began building custom homes.
For nearly 50 years, Mr. Hager Jr. helped run the family business, specializing in custom home and commercial building throughout the area.
By the time he retired in 1997, Mr. Hager had built hundreds of homes and businesses. The family business closed upon his retirement.
Family members recalled that the "Hager-built house" became prevalent in local real estate listings and the company's work became known for its meticulous craftsmanship and quality.
The company built many homes in Buffalo and the Snyder section of Amherst.
After serving as a town councilman, Mr. Hager served four terms as Aurora supervisor, from 1984 to 1991.
An active community member, he spearheaded the building of the Aurora Community Pool on South Street and the East Aurora Library on Main Street.
He also served on the board of the East Aurora Boys & Girls Club.
A former Kiwanis Club president, Mr. Hager was presented the George F. Hixson Award in 2009, to recognize his many years of service and leadership.
An avid skier, Mr. Hager also was a founding member of the Glenwood Acres Ski Club and enjoyed skiing until age 80.
He also played racquetball and golf, and was a longtime member of East Aurora Country Club.
"He was someone in East Aurora who people felt comfortable going to," said Ellen Carroll, a daughter-in-law, noting that he also held a Republican Tea Party in his home as a fundraiser for Jack Kemp, who was running for Congress. "He was friends with people like that and also the guy around the corner."
Mr. Hager's wife of 53 years, Bonnie Benson Hager, died last December.
Survivors include two sons, H. John III and Richard B., and a brother, Walter.
A Requiem Eucharist service will be at 10 a.m. Saturday in St. Luke's Anglican Church, 591 Porterville Road, Town of Aurora.