Times-Union’s Norm Hagg dies at 80

(photo supplied / Redpath-Fruth Funeral Home)

Longtime Times-Union newsman Norm Hagg and Indiana Hall of Fame basketball coach Bill Patrick had a standing bet when Patrick coached at Whitko and Tippecanoe Valley high schools.

If Patrick had a losing season, he bought Hagg breakfast after the basketball season was over. If Patrick had a winning season, Hagg bought him breakfast.

“He said, ‘I hope I always buy,’” Patrick recalled this morning. He said the bet lasted about 20 years, with Hagg buying most of the time. “I think I bought three times,” he said.

Hagg, 80, died Tuesday following a 16-year battle with cancer and leukemia.

Times-Union General Manager Gary Gerard, who worked with Hagg for 25 years, said he was far more than a co-worker.

“He was just a really great guy. He was a mentor and a friend,” Gerard said. “He had a deep passion for the daily newspaper business and an encyclopedic knowledge of our community. Pretty much any time we had a question in the newsroom about a local person or place, Norm had the answer.”

It was the same with NASCAR, the Indy 500 and Hoosier basketball, Gerard said. “He just had a wealth of knowledge, expertise and connections that we still tapped into from time to time. We’re really going to miss him around here.”

Hagg graduated from Leesburg High School in 1955. After completing training for a career in radio at Midwestern Broadcasting School in Chicago, Hagg worked for WRSW before being recruited to the Times-Union as a general assignment reporter. He served as the newspaper’s sports editor, city editor, managing editor, editor in chief and general manager. After five decades at the newspaper, he retired on April 21, 2013.

He had remained active in radio for a time and was the “Voice of the Tigers” for many games in the 1970s and 1980s.

WRSW longtime on-air personality Rita Price said when she started doing sports on the radio, Hagg worked with her. She said he was always a gentleman and was always willing to help her out. He was there when she needed him.

When Hagg’s duties at the newspaper became too much, Price Simpson said he was very gracious to her and encouraged her to take over more responsibilities at the radio. At that time, there weren’t too many women in radio broadcasting, but she said Hagg was very encouraging to her and she always appreciated that.

“I knew him from 1959 when he was at the news desk. We all shared the same room. You had to like Norm, he was such a great guy. No one was better in so many ways than Norm,” Price said.

As a member of the media, Hagg was inducted into the Kosciusko County High School Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013.

Patrick, who graduated from Sidney High School, said he and Hagg played ball against each other in high school and have known each other since then.

“He enjoyed being around kids, he enjoyed being around coaches. Norm never saw a stranger,” Patrick said. “He was a good person. He was a good man.”

He will be missed by a lot of people, he said.

“When he came into a room, he always made everyone feel better. He never talked about himself. He was interested in what others were doing,” Patrick said. “The whole community of Warsaw will miss him because he knew a lot of people and he did a lot for the community over the years. He never said anything bad about anyone.”