Cancer claims honored college instructor



Jon Hagstrom, an English and writing instructor who taught more than 10,000 students in his nearly 30 years at Columbia College, died Wednesday after a battle with cancer.

He was 67.

Diagnosed with lung cancer in early March, Hagstrom spent the final months of his life surrounded by family and friends. He died at the Columbia-area home he and his wife, Ruth, have shared since their arrival in Tuolumne County in 1967.

Born in Wisconsin in 1935, Hagstrom moved to the Los Angeles area with his parents and four brothers as a child. He later lived in Truckee and Redding, where he graduated from high school.

Hagstrom served in the Army during the Korean War, earned a bachelor's degree from Chico State University and did graduate work at San Francisco State and the University of the Pacific, from which he received a master's degree.

After teaching briefly at Modesto Junior College, Hagstrom became one of Columbia College's first 14 faculty members in 1967.

He taught English and writing with an emphasis on independent, critical thinking. Many of his students became longtime friends and admirers.

Hagstrom was the first president of the Columbia College Faculty Senate and received many honors in his long career. He retired in 1995.

He loved fishing, hiking and camping in Tuolumne County's high country and made several trips to his beloved Kennedy Meadows in the months before he died.

One was for an annual Columbia College faculty retreat which he founded and organized decades ago. Others were with family and friends.

In an interview with The Union Democrat in March, Hagstrom said that knowing he would die soon had given him a heightened appreciation of what for years had enriched his life: Friends, family, time spent woodworking in his shop, watching spring unfold around his well-hidden home.

"I value the quiet times," he said at the time. "I appreciate everything around me."

The Union Democrat
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