"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance

 and a people who mean to be their own governors

 must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Fred Hagmann Remembered Thanks To Katie Wang

We posted on February 20th about Fred Hagmann of Livingston, NJ that died without friends or family to bury him. He left behind an estate in excess of $250,000 and yet the Essex County administrator hired to oversee his estate and burial didn’t see fit to purchase a headstone for the man’s grave. The State of New Jersey will be the beneficiary of the man’s entire estate.

Well, here’s the good news, thanks to Katie Wang's Star-Ledger article and the good people of New Jersey, Fred Hagmann will have a grave marker. Without Wang’s excellent reporting, no one would have known the difference. The entire article here, snips below.
In death, as in life, there were to be no traces of Fred Hagmann.

The 76-year-old Livingston man, who was dead almost a year before anyone noticed, is buried between two plots in a Union County cemetery. Both those plots have markers telling who rested there, but his burial space was to remain unmarked.

Now it won't be.

A plaque will bear Hagmann's name, the names of his parents and the dates of his birth and his death, Howard Waxman, the Essex County-appointed administrator for the estate, said yesterday.

An article in The Sunday Star-Ledger detailed Hagmann's life and the months leading to the discovery of his body Sept. 7. More than 100 readers called or sent e-mail messages to the newspaper, many offering to buy or raise money for a marker or tombstone.

Many were angry the state of New Jersey -- which annually buries 100 people who have no family, often in unmarked graves -- would take Hagmann's assets, including more than $235,000 in uncashed Social Security and pension checks, but not pay for a plaque or a sign for his plot.

"Mr. Hagmann is not going to be in potter's field in an unmarked grave," said Waxman, a Newark attorney. "Mr. Hagmann will be given a fitting memorial." Waxman said that when he made the funeral arrangements, he did not know how much money Hagmann had. He realized only recently, after he sifting through Hagmann's paperwork, that the man was modestly wealthy.

In addition to the uncashed checks, there was money left from insurance policies purchased by his parents, Charlotte and Valentine, who predeceased him. Waxman did not disclose how much those policies are worth. "There is sufficient monies to pay" for a marker, Waxman said.

The marker will not be laid down for weeks because the soil needs to settle, said Ted Lytwyn, the funeral director in Union County who handled the services. Hagmann did not have any siblings. No one responded to an ad looking for relatives, and police could not find any.

Over the weekend, cleaners hired by the county cleared out Hagmann's house, said John Petrullo, who lives next door. "It looks like they were gutting the whole house. Christmas cards and albums were thrown away," said Petrullo. He said he also saw large model airplanes being tossed out. Hagmann was a model-airplane enthusiast who built planes and also collected magazines about them, said police.

Hagmann's body languished in the medical examiner's office in Newark for months before he was buried. Waxman said he did not bury Hagmann with his parents because at the time he did not know where they had been buried -- East Hanover.

"I was not aware of any plot or anything else," he said. Waxman said yesterday that he has received many calls from people who are interested in buying the house at 1 Springbrook Place. Hagmann purchased the house in 1961 for $11,500. He also said one person called saying Hagmann might have been a relative.

"He lived for Schering and for his parents," said Bob Bokelman, a former colleague from Schering-Plough, where Hagmann worked for 40 years. "There are a lot of old-timers who remember him well."


At 10:19 AM, Blogger Fausta said...

Heartbreaking. I'm glad he's getting a marker now.

At 10:40 AM, Blogger Glass House said...

A BIG thank you to Katie Wang and also to you, Enlighten NJ for bringing this to our attention. It's the small, random acts of kindness that makes the world just a little bit better place. And this was absolutely the right thing to do for Fred Hagmann, but could have gone unnoticed. I think the State of New Jersey should set up a fund to use his money for other people in his situation. Use the money to properly bury and remember those who have no other living family to take care of their final needs.


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