Larry Hagen, 82, of Oak Park, died peacefully at home on April 26, 2022, surrounded by family, after a long battle with Multiple System Atrophy (MSA). Born on March 24, 1940, in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, he attended the Holy Cross seminary in La Crosse for high school and college, graduating in 1962, and spent one year at St. Paul Seminary in St Paul, Minnesota. He ultimately decided the priesthood was not for him, and moved to Chicago, where he had spent summers as a gravedigger. There he started working as a high school teacher at a girl’s Catholic school. He took part in improv theater and worked as a probation officer for the juvenile court system. He then pursued a Master of Social Work at the University of Chicago and met Mary McGuirk, also a social worker, whom he married on Sept 6, 1975, at the University of Chicago’s Bond Chapel. They moved to Oak Park in 1977 and had two daughters, Erica and Alyssa.
A seminal experience for him, which he never tired of retelling, was a chance meeting with Martin Luther King Jr. in Chicago in 1963. He became very involved in the Civil Rights Movement and even followed King to the March on Washington.
After the birth of his first daughter in 1977, he attended night school at Chicago-Kent College of Law at IIT and then began private legal practice. Most of his legal career was spent in immigration law, often taking on difficult political asylum cases. He was able to get residency for many people fleeing from persecution in Africa, Eastern Europe and elsewhere. After retirement from law, he worked part time as a lecturer at Lewis University in Cultural Diversity. A lifelong reader, he was a member of Oak Park’s longest-running book club and also enjoyed singing at the St. Giles Family Mass and other choirs. He was a proud Oak Parker for the past 45 years.
Despite his challenging career, he always maintained a sense of humor and was easygoing — unless the topic was politics. He loved telling stories from his life, the civil rights era, and Chicago’s social and political history, which fascinated him. He also loved genealogy and visited Norway and Sweden to meet his extended family. He was always ready to be a cheerleader for his girls in their pursuits. In 2013 his first of three grandchildren was born and he embraced his new role as grandpa. He will be dearly missed by many.
His family would like to thank everyone at the Rush University Medical Center Movement Disorder Clinic, and Accent Care hospice nurses and caregivers. Memorial visitation will be at St. Giles Catholic Church on May 11, 2022 from 9:30 a.m. until Mass of Christian Burial at 10:30 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to: the Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center, https://immigrantjustice.org/, or the Multiple Systems Atrophy Coalition, https://www.multiplesystematrophy.org.