James O'Hagan

April 14, 1936 ~ October 20, 2019 (age 83)


Celebrating the Life Of James Herman O’Hagan

World-class husband, father, grandfather, brother, cousin, friend, environmentalist, historian and story-teller extraordinaire.

Jim was born April 14, 1936, in a farmhouse in McLeod County, Minnesota, where his father was the principal of a one-room schoolhouse.  At age 3, the family moved to Silver Lake and at age 6, Jim began a great adventure when the family moved to Kennel, South Dakota, to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation where his father had signed a two-year contract to run their schools. Jim’s best friend was the chief’s daughter, Teresa. He had his own pony. He learned Sioux.  He loved every minute of those two years!

When the war ended, the O’Hagan family moved to Doran, again a very small town in Sibley County, where his father was superintendent of schools.  Then, in 1947, his father’s new assignment was in the Mounds View School District and the family moved into “the Cities”. 

Jim graduated from Columbia Heights High School in 1954…salutatorian, spelling bee champion and all-suburban conference football player.  Most importantly, he became life-long best friends with Gerry Herringer for the next 60+ years.  He treasured all their hunting trips, skiing holidays, poker games with their high school friends (Ted, David and Paul) and times together as loyal Vikings, Twins and Gopher fans.

From age nine through high school, he spent several summers on his uncles’ farms in Cokato, Minnesota, another of what he always called the “best times” in his life.  Not only did he love his adventures with his cousin David Sand, but they, too, became life-long best friends.

Jim was determined to go to college. With two scholarships from the Star and the Tribune and good summer jobs, he put himself through the U, was president of his fraternity and graduated in 1959 with a major in history and a minor in political science. 

After fulfilling his ROTC obligation, Jim enrolled in the Law School at the University of Minnesota.  He graduated with honors in 1963 and served as managing editor of the Minnesota Law Review.

He immediately began a two-decade career with the Dorsey & Whitney law firm.  He left in 1987 to establish his own practice and retired in 2000.

Jim loved waterfowl and pheasant hunting and was a 20-year member and past president of Long Meadow, the oldest duck camp in the State of Minnesota, as recorded by the Minnesota Historical Society.  The family’s home in Sunfish Lake included three dozen woodduck houses each year as he did his best to increase the woodduck population in Minnesota.

He also partnered with the federal government on a number of wildlife projects restoring wetlands in Minnesota.

Today’s bountiful fishing in Sunfish Lake can be traced to Jim’s help in restocking the lake after it had been shocked and most of the fish destroyed. 

Reminiscing about his many life experiences, Jim always said he was proudest of the education he had given his children, starting with their years at Visitation and St. Thomas Academy.

Jim died on October 20, 2019, in his favorite sunroom, at home with his family.

He was the loving husband of Ann Barkelew, his wife of 31 years.   He was the proud father of Kathleen, Thomas (Allison Begay), Cindy (Chris Robertson) and Colleen (Chris Maiberger) and of bonus daughters: Sara (Richard Schoeneweis) and Carolyn Sweeney.  He is also greatly missed by all his favorite grandchildren:  Charlotte, Josephine and Juliette Robertson; Miles, Eleanor and Vivian Maiberger; Lexie and J.J. O’Hagan; Katy and Jane Schoeneweis and James Sweeney; his sister Maurene and nieces and nephews and cousins and friends coast to coast…and his faithful hunting companions, Molly and Scooter.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Clayton and Edna O’Hagan; his brothers, Joseph and Jerol; his sister, Marlene Visser; and granddaughter Samantha O’Hagan.

Jim will always be remembered for his story-telling…for his love of June berries and Minnesota corn-on-the-cob…for his card-playing (always to win)…for his keen interest in family history…and for his sparkle.

The family is deeply grateful to Dr. Thomas Johnson, the Ecumen hospice team and to Rob, for helping Ann make it possible for Jim to be at home.

A Celebration of Jim will be at their Sunfish Lake home on December 14 from 3 to 5 p.m.  Stories and remembrances will be shared. 


Memorials may be given to Pheasants Forever, Ecumen Hospice, a charity of your choice or the family to designate.




Arrangements entrusted to Summit Funeral & Cremation


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