Robert Lesley Hashagen 1929 - 2022

Robert Lesley Hashagen, a proud Korean War veteran, died peacefully on August 22, 2022, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with his two daughters at his side. He was 93.

Born August 1, 1929,  to Herman B. and Frances G. Hashagen, he graduated from Kalispell High School in Montana. After school, he entered the service, rising to the rank of staff sergeant in the U.S. Air Force while stationed in Japan.

His son wrote this note to his father in his final days: "Man About a Horse"

My Dad is a cowboy from Montana, watching his final sunsets in the Wild West.

One of my earliest memories of him is a beach trip to Santa Cruz, where he chased after a fish in a tidal pool and caught it with his bare hands before giving the fish to a bystander. Superman.

After five years in Hayward, California, we moved briefly to rustic Sunol, another adventure, where we encountered a herd of elk and a column of tarantulas. There was also the night when the chimney caught fire, filling the log cabin with smoke. Dad joined the volunteer fire department afterward.

At an early age, I discovered he was a Korean War veteran. I recall his crisp hat from the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He reconnected with the group in Santa Fe, earning a new hat and the respect of younger veterans.

Upon setting in Pleasanton, home of California's oldest horse racing track, I would often travel with Dad while he worked. "Where are we headed?" "We're going to see a man about a horse," he would say. Soon, I realized that was a metaphor for a sales call. But it was also a metaphor for life: Go out and make something happen.

He was known to break out a phrase or two of Japanese. One day, he brought home an Airedale puppy aptly named Ichi Ban Paisan, translating to Number One Friend in Japanese and Italian.

He and Uncle Red had a pack of hunting dogs, too. On a return trip from Idaho, our truck dropped a driveshaft in Lovelock, Nevada. I stayed in town in a well-worn motel, caring for eight hound dogs while Dad hitchhiked to Reno and back to get a replacement part for the truck. On another hunting trip, I remember being on the hood of the truck trying to spot bear tracks in the snow. Very cool.

There were also trips to his old stomping grounds in his native Montana and to national parks, including Yellowstone, Teton, Glacier and, closer to home, Yosemite.

Roads led to Redwood Valley. With two acres, he could now have a couple of horses and a German Shepherd. Mom's introduction to the country life was a kitchen drawer filled with baby chicks.

The later years led to McMinnville, Oregon. During a visit, he took me to his favorite "bird park” and also to the air museum where he was a docent. I was impressed by the enormity of the Spruce Goose and also admired a Pitt-Stearman biplane. I showed him a Facebook photograph of me "wing walking" on one such plane. I still do not like heights.

I'm so glad I got to spend half a year with Dad in Eldorado while he was still mobile; the journeys we took, the museums we visited, the two and a half cords of wood I stacked under his direction, and the birds we fed. That's how I'll remember him: A cowboy from Montana and Number One Friend, watching the sunset in the Wild West.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Patricia Ann Hashagen in 2020; daughter, Kim Patricia Hashagen; and his siblings, Herman Buckley Hashagen Jr. and Esther Jean Brodoski.

Robert and Patricia were introduced by their mutual aunt, Nita Steinbrink, and they met at the Russian River in Guerneville, California. She stayed with her Grandma Gunda in Oakland while he completed college in Santa Rosa. In the summer of 1952, they were married in a small chapel in Alameda County and honeymooned in Santa Cruz, where they held a 50th wedding anniversary with family and friends. They were married 67 years.

Survivors include three children, Randell, Jill and Jan; seven grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; sister and brother-in-law, Carol and Len Abert; and many nieces and nephews.

The family will hold a memorial celebration at 11 a.m. Friday, October 21, 2022, at Willamette National Cemetery; 11800 S.E. Mt. Scott Blvd, Happy Valley, OR 97086.

Donations in his memory may be made to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, Grand Central Station, P.O. Box 4777, New York, NY 10163


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