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Obituary for John Donald Hagarty

February 9, 1940 – November 6, 2023

John Donald Hagarty, “Jack,” was born on Feb. 9, 1940, on a farm near Greene in Butler County, Ia. Jack was the first child of Don and Berniece (née Dougherty) Hagarty.

John Donald Hagarty

He attended three separate country schools followed by two years at Sacred Heart Academy in Greene. He graduated from Greene High School in 1958. He attended Loras College in Dubuque, Ia., majoring in chemistry, and was mentored by Monsignor George Schulte, with whom he had a life-changing relationship.

Jack was planning to graduate and get a job after college, but Monsignor Schulte would have none of that. Jack soon found himself in graduate school in Pittsburgh, Penn., attending Duquesne University and studying organic chemistry, a subject with which he soon became fascinated. He graduated with a Ph.D from Duquesne in 1966 and immediately found his dream job as a chemist for S.C. Johnson in Racine, then known as Johnson Wax.

He worked for SCJ for 33 years before retiring in 1999. Jack did not adapt well to the concept of leisurely retirement, so he consulted for a number of companies for several years and thereby got to extend his career in chemistry.

Jack was a very active participant in sports all throughout his life, especially high school football in his teen years and basketball as an adult. He was an avid golfer, tennis player, and loved the outdoors. He especially enjoyed the numerous wilderness canoe trips to Canada with his like-minded friends. Those canoe trips evolved into fly-in adventures as the group aged of course.

He also enjoyed downhill skiing and was a longtime member of the Snomads Ski Club and also the Vagabounds Ski Club. It was through the Snomads that he met Jeannie Larsen, the love of his life. Jack and Jeannie enjoyed the many ski trips with the Snomads and also golfing together. They were also big fans of the local music scene. They married in 2001.

Mentoring was something that Jack believed in strongly. He was a volunteer in the Big Brother-Big Sisters Program for 30 years, including two years as Board President. He also volunteered in the Racine Unified schools as a “visiting scientist” in the Pluto Program.

John Donald Hagarty is survived by his loving wife, Jeannie; son, Michael; stepson, Del and his wife, Heather; grandchildren, Kayla Hagarty, Brenden Hagarty, Tristen Larsen and Ciennah Larsen.

His surviving siblings are Renee (Fred) Billman and Tom Hagarty. He is also survived by nieces and nephews, Tom (Laura) Billman, Ellen (Jon) Stehlik and Aaron (Linnea) Billman; great-nieces and nephews, Jim and Arlette Billman and Hazel and Madeline Stehlik.

He was preceded in death by his son, Patrick; sister, Janet Hagarty; and Jerry Hagarty.


A Mass of Christian Burial for John Donald Hagarty will be held at 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 17 at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church. Visitation will be held from 10:00 a.m. until time of Mass.

In lieu of flowers, memorials to St. Patrick’s Church or Big Brothers-Big Sisters are suggested.

Obituary and photo of John Donald Hagarty courtesy of Maresh-Meredith & Acklam Funeral Home.

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