On Thursday, December 17, 2020, Garnis William Hagen passed away at the age of 78.
He was born on May 17, 1942, in Ellis, Kansas, to William and Lena Hagen. Even as a youngster, he developed strong connections with everyone he met. It was during those years that he began to display his talent for telling interesting and animated stories.
At the age of 18, Garnis moved to Fremont, Nebraska, to attend Midland College. While in school, he not only worked but lived in the local mortuary. He drove both the hearse and the ambulance depending on the situation at hand. This unique experience provided a strong foundation for many of his classic tales.
Garnis met his wife Suzi, at college and they married on May 31, 1964. They spent 51 years traveling the globe. They accumulated fascinating friends and years worth of laugh-inducing experiences which Garnis would tell with gusto the rest of his life. His early career included filming and photography in Colorado while working on his Master’s Degree at the University of Denver. For several years, he worked for the American Quarter Horse Association in Amarillo, Texas, where his son Ty was born. In 1979, Garnis moved to Fairfield, Connecticut, to begin a career of over 20 years in marketing at United States Tobacco Company (UST). At UST, Garnis built lasting relationships with many in the company and those that he worked with across all types of events including racing and rodeo. After retirement, he and Suzi settled in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Garnis had a passion for the outdoors, horses and life. In retirement, you would often find him on the back of a horse, working cattle at San Cristobal, a Singleton Ranch. He extended his generosity and warm spirit to everyone that he met, and he continued sharing his experiences to the end. These stories were rarely short and yet were welcomed with a smile that often transformed into laughter. He loved to impart life lessons, and many would reach out to him for guidance. Sometimes the tips included basic pearls such as, “Don’t eat yellow snow,” and other times he gave pivotal words of wisdom that changed people’s lives for the better. No matter what type of advice was given, you were a better person for knowing Garnis. Through it all, Garnis never forgot his roots.
Garnis was preceded in death by his parents, William and Lena Hagen, and his wife Suzi. He is survived by his son Ty, daughter-in-law Susie and granddaughter Kaitlyn, as well as relations in Kansas and a wide range of friends across the United States. In his last few years, he met Linda Milanesi, who was a friend and companion for the rest of his life.
In lieu of flowers, please honor Garnis as you see fit either in spirit or as a donation to a charity of your choice.
Posted online on December 26, 2020