HomeNewsJohn Hager, Jenna Bush’s Father-In-Law, Dead at 83

John Hager, Jenna Bush’s Father-In-Law, Dead at 83

by Jack T. Wilder

Jenna Bush Hager is mourning the loss of her father-in-law John Hager.

The TODAY Show personality and daughter of President George W. Bush shared on Instagram Monday that the father of her husband, Henry Hager, died at 83 on Sunday morning.


Born in North Carolina, he served as lieutenant governor of Virginia from 1998 to 2002. He later worked in the U.S. Department of Education. He was an Army veteran. Hager suffered from polio and was paralyzed from the waist down.

The Washington Post reported in 1997:

“He was still in Richmond one day when his back hurt so badly he lay down on his office floor to make calls. When he got home, he had to be carried to bed. By morning, paralysis had set in. Hager eventually was told he had gotten polio from his infant son’s vaccine, probably through [contact with] vomit or a soiled diaper.”

He endured months of rehabilitation and never regained use of his legs. He said he was denied a major promotion that would have taken him to New York. “They didn’t need an executive vice president in a wheelchair,” he told The Post.

Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam ordered Virginia state flags to be flown at half-staff for 10 days in honor of Hager. He later released a statement saying:

“John Hager devoted his life to public service, and I admired his love for our country and for Virginia. He served in the Army and worked as a businessman, but he will be remembered as a volunteer, an athlete, an author, and a patriot.”

Ambassador Jim Gilmore, a former governor of Virginia, tweeted his respects to Mr. Hager.