Oct. 29, 1921 - Sept. 12, 2012
Norman R. Hager, an accomplished jazz drummer, the creator of Western New York's first fitness gym and former fine men's clothing salesman who outfitted the executives of Buffalo, died Wednesday in VA Medical Center after a short illness. He was 90.
Born in Buffalo, Mr. Hager graduated from Technical High School.
He served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He was a physical conditioning instructor at Fort Dix, N.J., before he was deployed to Europe. As a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division, he fought in battles in Ardennes, Central Europe, Normandy and Rhineland.
He participated in the Berlin Olympics as part of an Army weight-lifting exhibition.
From the time he was a teenager, Mr. Hager loved jazz and played regular gigs around Buffalo as a drummer. He played with the Harold Austin Orchestra at the Delwood Ballroom and the Harry Miller Trio at the Park Lane.
He was a life member of the Buffalo Musicians Union and played a role in bringing Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman to Buffalo for a concert at Kleinhans Music Hall in 1953.
The Kenmore resident worked for decades as a men's clothing salesman - from 1950 to 1985 at Kleinhans Co. in Buffalo and from 1978 to 1990 at Campus Corner Clothing in Williamsville.
He also ran Norm Hager and Sons Car Detailing from 1970 until the time of his death.
In 1962, Mr. Hager opened the Rite Form Health Studios on Delaware Avenue in Kenmore, which he ran for nine years.
In 2010, he was inducted into the Buffalo Weightlifting Hall of Fame as the creator and owner of the region's first gym.
Mr. Hager enjoyed luxury cars, attending and participating in numerous car shows.
He is survived by his wife of 59 years, the former Alice Kuczkowski; five sons, Van, Christopher, Arnold, Jason and Erich; and a daughter, Susan.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Monday in St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, 1085 Englewood Avenue, Town of Tonawanda.