Edward LeRoy Sager, devoted father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, passed away on April 8, 2021. He was 87 years old. He was born in Saginaw, MI, on July 3, 1933, to Elizabeth Gertrude Leitzow and Edward LeRoy Sager Sr., and had a brother, Michael (1934–2011), and a sister-in-law, Alice Bacca (1933–2004). Ed and Michael were partly raised by his “Aunt” Minnie and “Uncle” George Jarboe, kind souls who took in the boys for many years at their farm in northern Michigan. He attended grade school at Holy Rosary Academy in Bay City, MI and high school in Oswego, NY. He was drafted during the Korean War and trained at Fort Lewis, WA, where he was honorably discharged as a corporal in 1955. Under the GI Bill, he studied biology at Michigan State University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree. He then taught high school science in Reese, MI, as well as in Freeland, MI, where he was head of the science department. Ed met the love of his life, Nancy Carol Plas, in Saginaw, MI, in 1961. They went ice skating on their first date and married a year later, starting a family. In 1966, Ed returned to MSU for a master’s degree in zoology. He then began a doctorate at the University of Texas–Austin before accepting a teaching position with the State University of New York at Delhi, NY, in 1969. In 1970, Ed, Nancy, and their three sons moved from Delhi to Bad Axe, MI to be closer to both their families. Ed worked there as a public health inspector for the Huron County Health Department. Nancy succumbed to cancer in 1981, and Ed never remarried. He remained in Bad Axe until he retired in the early 1990s.
Ed’s hobbies included backpacking with his family, singing in a barbershop-harmony vocal ensemble, and skiing. He was a fan of jazz, particularly the pianists Dave Brubeck and Erroll Garner. But his central preoccupations in life were religion and spirituality. After his wife’s death, he immersed himself deeply in Catholic prayer and theology. Over time, he began to explore other spiritual ideas and in 1993 relocated to Phoenicia, NY, where he joined a group of spiritualists who studied the Pathwork lectures. Ed made many friends there, as he had in Michigan—and when he formed friendships, they would often last his whole life. In his last decades, while living in Saugerties, NY, he volunteered for several charitable organizations, including Family of Woodstock, where he answered calls for a crisis hotline. He read and studied questions of existential and spiritual well-being intensely for many years and participated in local prayer and meditation groups. He volunteered for Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaigns, and when Joe Biden won in 2020, he celebrated in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, with family. He was a beloved and reliable friend, admired by many for his caring and kindness.
Ed endured the COVID-19 pandemic in part at the Grace Park Senior Living assisted-living facility in Stroudsburg, PA, where he died from cancer. He is survived by his immediate family members: his sons Mark, Todd, and Paul; by his daughter-in-law Beth Sager, and ex-daughters-in-law Rosemarie Serrano, Kathy Bratton, Stella Hao, and Catherine Marsh; and by his grandchildren Heather Sager, Mark Sager Jr., Lindsay Sager, Derek Sager, Zoe Marsh, and Wyatt Marsh. He is also survived by his half-brother, John Sager, and John’s wife, Gail, and his late wife Nancy’s siblings, Noel Closs, Joe Plas, and Cathy Manning.
A memorial will be held on June 27, 2021, from 2 to 4 pm on the terrace at Diamond Mills Hotel & Tavern at 25 South Partition Street, Saugerties, NY 12477. Those who wish to make a commemorative gesture should consider making a donation to Family of Woodstock, where Ed volunteered (www.familyofwoodstockinc.org).