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‘Aces’ to Hagebak and his history

By Staff | Jun 18, 2017

`There is a pretty interesting (and well-written) column in this week’s Faribault County Register that was composed by long ago Blue Earth resident Beaumont Hagebak. It is all about Hagebak’s fond memories of Blue Earth, his old hometown.

You might wonder just who the heck is Beaumont Hagebak. I know I sure did.

And small wonder. He moved from town right after he graduated from Blue Earth High School in 1954. I was four years old. Many of our readers were probably not even born yet.

Turns out he lived here for just 10 years.

Hagebak and his father, mother and kid sister, Corinne, moved to Blue Earth in 1944 when he was in third grade.

His father, Dr. Beaumont H. Hagebak, was a dentist with his offices at Seventh and Main in the back side of the first of what is now known as the Three Sisters buildings. That back building is often thought of as the Fourth Sister, actually.

The family lived at 219 E. Second Street.

Hagebak went in the U.S. Army after graduation from BEHS, and served in Germany for two years. After that he went to college at what is now the University of Northern Iowa, intending to become a teacher.

Instead, he became a high school counselor in Iowa and decided he liked helping people who needed his help.

So, he went to Arizona State University and got his doctorate and became a psychologist.

Hagebak started in private practice, but also became director of Psychological Services at Mankato State University, then dean at Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin.

From there he went south and helped Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter develop mental health centers in Georgia.

After that he became a senior federal official, serving for several years as the top executive in the U.S. Public Health Service Regional Office serving eight southern states.

After he retired in 1999 he continued to do some consulting work and taught psychology in the Georgia state university system.

After a spell in California, he now lives back in Georgia, where he does water color painting and some writing.

Something he is working on writing is a book about his childhood in Blue Earth.

He told me a bit about it and perhaps we will be able to run some excerpts in the future.

Hagebak also told me that his first job in life was working summers at the Green Giant packing plant in Blue Earth, as it was for most of the kids in town at the time.

He also worked during the school year at Elmer’s Super Valu, owned by Elmer Knutson, who Hagebak calls his first “real” boss.

Several years ago Hagebak was back for a visit in Blue Earth and looked up Elmer Knutson, who by then was residing at St. Luke’s Care Center.

The two did a lot of reminiscing about the good old days.

Hagebak told Elmer that he had only been earning 50 cents per hour at Elmer’s fine establishment in those days and figured he was owed some back wages.

Elmer told him “You were only worth 50 cents per hour!” They both had a good laugh over that comment.

Hagebak also related another personal memory from his Blue Earth days.

All of his adult life his nickname has been “Ace,” as in being called Beaumont “Ace” Hagebak.

And while you might be thinking that he was an ace pilot in the army air corps, or had been an ace pitcher on the school baseball team, or had a wicked ace serve on the tennis team, you would be wrong.

He confessed that he got his nickname at BEHS, but not from sports.

He was caught flying a three-foot-long paper airplane in study hall in eighth grade. Ken Bergstadt, wrestling coach and most popular teacher in the school, said, “What are you trying to do, Hagebak, be an ace?”

He was known as “Ace” the rest of his Blue Earth school career and it stuck with him for the rest of his life, as well.

Hagebak has had a strong love for Blue Earth for his entire life, even though he was never able to come back and live here.

But, as he says in his column, he is going to return in the not-so-distant future.

He has a plot at Riverside Cemetery in Blue Earth and plans to be buried there and spend the rest of eternity in his old hometown.

I wonder if his tombstone will read, “Here lies ‘Ace’ Hagebak?”