Horace Guenter Hagen, 83, of Red Bank, NJ died suddenly on December 14, 2022 at home. He was born on February 4, 1939 in Schleswig-Holstein, a rural area of Northern Germany on the Baltic Sea. In 1953, at the age of 14, Horace and his family immigrated to the United States, coming through Ellis Island and establishing a home in New York City. He attended Evander Childs High School in the Bronx (Class of 1957) and then obtained a degree in Engineering from the Academy of Aeronautics at La Guardia, studying aircraft electrical system design. In 1960, he began his professional career at AT&T Bell Laboratories in New Jersey. His work would span both government and commercial projects, including development of the first video phone. He would remain at the company through several corporate restructurings and retire from there 41 years later in 2001.
From the age of 5, Horace had a fascination with aviation. He would tell the story of how a B-17 bomber crashed a few miles from his childhood home in 1944, sparking an interest in planes and other aircraft that would last a lifetime. During his childhood he spent countless hours building models, graduating from simple gliders to remote-controlled (R/C) airplanes and then helicopters. He was widely recognized as a pioneer and leading authority on model aviation, first competing in and later judging and serving as an organizer and rulemaker for national and international R/C flying contests. He held several committee member and chairperson positions with the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) and Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI World Air Sports Federation.) He appeared on TV and flew in exhibitions, including those held at Rockefeller Center, during NFL football game halftimes and between MLB baseball double-headers. But perhaps most importantly, Horace enjoyed sharing his knowledge with others and mentored many who developed an interest in the hobby.
Horace loved music and could play any song after hearing it once. He taught himself to play several instruments including the harmonica, accordion and piano/organ. He was very talented mechanically and built the first television he ever owned from a Heathkit. He worked on his cars, did home repairs and improvements himself, and could be called upon to piece a Walkman back together after it fell off your bike. He loved his German heritage and especially its food, indulging in desserts of many kinds including ice cream, cakes, pastries and anything baked following his mother’s renowned holiday cookie recipes. His greatest joy in later life was spending time with his family. He thrived in his role as Opa, cheering from the sidelines at sporting events and beaming with pride at his grandchildren’s accomplishments.
He is pre-deceased by his parents Hermann and Margaret (Henningsen) Hagen. He is survived by his beloved longtime companion Phyllis Curreri; her daughters Lisa Curreri of Red Bank, NJ, Denise (Al) DeSantis of Oceanport, NJ; Colette (Bob) Gifford of Monmouth Beach, NJ; his daughters Donna Hayes of Holmdel, NJ and Linda Grote of Fairfax, VA; eleven grandchildren: Marissa, Al and Cassandra DeSantis, Jacqueline, Bobby, and Christopher Gifford, Brydon, Gillian, and Delaina Hayes, Trevor and Mitchell Grote; his sisters Uta Leonardo of Brewster, NY and Vivian Hagen of Plymouth, NH; and many extended family members and friends.
A memorial gathering will be held on Saturday, December 17th, 2022 at Thompson Memorial Home, 310 Broad Street, Red Bank, NJ 07701 from 1pm to 4pm. The family requests that all those attending please wear masks. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.