Henry ‘Hank’ Haagenstad
Henry “Hank” Haagenstad passed away peacefully at home March 15, 2017. He was born April 16, 1925 on his family’s farm near New England, North Dakota, to Nora and Henry I. Haagenstad, the youngest of three children. Throughout his life, he remained enormously proud of his Norwegian heritage.
Hank attended NDSU before enlisting in the Army in 1945, serving in the Japanese Occupation. On the troop train home, he fell in love with the Montana Rockies, and later attended MSU in Bozeman. There, he earned a degree in Vocational Agriculture and met his wife Ann Moseley, whom he married Dec. 23, 1951. He began teaching high school in Belfry in 1952, where their daughters Cathy and Kerry (Karen) were born. In 1958 the family moved to Red Lodge, where he taught Vo-Ag, woodworking and shop, while also serving as FFA advisor. He was the first teacher in the state to enroll girls in his Vo-Ag classes, and his students excelled on the county, district, state, and national FFA levels. Some of Ann and Hank’s deepest and longest friendships were made in Carbon County over those 23 years. In 1975 they moved to Homestead, where he continued teaching in Medicine Lake for the next 8 years. There, he was honored as Montana Vo-Ag Teacher of the Year.
After 31 years of teaching, he retired and moved to Colstrip with Ann in 1983, then to Clancy (near Helena) in 1991. Over the years, Hank also developed countless friendships statewide with folks who still remember him as their Fuller Brush and Watkins salesman.
He was known for his love of animals, especially his long succession of Norwegian Elkhound companions; off-the-wall humor; genuine concern for others; and encouragement of anyone and everyone who needed it, even strangers. His emotions ran true and deep, as did his loyalty and generosity of spirit. He was a champion for the underdogs of the world.
A living celebration of Hank’s life was held on his 90th birthday in April, 2015. It was attended by 55 of his friends, family, neighbors, students and fellow teachers. Students -- one from his first high school class in 1952 -- came from as far as Calgary, Billings, and Red Lodge; teachers came from Hysham, Conrad, Bozeman, Lewistown, and Thompson Falls; students, friends and family called and sent well wishes from all over the country. He remained euphoric ever since, humbled and surprised at the huge response. We are overjoyed that his life could be celebrated in this way, when he could so fully enjoy the festivities himself.
Hank is survived by his wife Ann of 65 years; daughters Cathy Stevens and Karen (Rob) Buffington; grandchildren Andy, Gretchen, Lauren, Ben and Justice; great-grandchildren Emily and Kara; and his beloved dog Shadow. Memorials may be made to the Montana FFA Foundation Scholarship Fund; Lewis and Clark Humane Society; or charities of your choice.
One of the best ways to honor Dad is to carry forward his kindness, compassion, and concern for others. Be kind; be generous; be an “encourager” – it would make him proud.
We miss him immensely, but are comforted knowing he is now resting in eternal peace and abundant sunshine, in the gentle pastures and infinite meadows of heaven.