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About Joseph E. Hagan

With a funeral service career spanning 52 years at Joseph Gawler’s Sons Funeral Home in Washington, D.C., Hagan was known for arranging and directing the funerals of some of the highest government officials in the country, including presidents, Supreme Court justices, senators and other diplomats. Assisting in the funerals of notables such as President Dwight Eisenhower, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, he was most noted for directing the highly profiled funeral of President John F. Kennedy in November 1963.

Despite all of the accolades he received during his life, he never parted from his basic message that serving families is the paramount duty of funeral directors, and once stated: “It doesn’t make a difference how many calls a firm receives. Whether its 25 or 2,000 what counts is serving the needs of the families. A funeral director must not only be considerate, kind and understanding, he or she must really care about the families served and never move away from that principle.” Even after he became legally blind from muscular degeneration, Hagan’s commitment to funeral service never waned. He continued working at the funeral home as much as he could.

Scholarship History

The Joseph E. Hagan Memorial Scholarship honors one of funeral service’s finest directors. Established in 2000 by the Foundation’s Board of Trustees, this $2,500 annual scholarship is awarded to full- or part-time students of funeral service enrolled in ABFSE-accredited programs.

Recipients are selected by the Foundation’s Scholarship Sub-Committee Committee, which is made up of members of the Board of Trustees and other members from the funeral service community.

Learn more and apply online


 2014 Hagan Memorial Scholarship Recipients

Chastity Hartman

Chastity Hartman of Metairie, La. earned the Joseph E. Hagan Memorial Scholarship to help with educational resources as she pursues her degree in mortuary science. Hartman was accepted into the ABFSE-accredited Funeral Service Education Program at Delgado Community College in New Orleans in 2014. Hartman has worked in the profession for several years and believes that becoming a licensed funeral director is the next natural step on her career path. “For as long at I can remember, I’ve wanted to work in the funeral profession,” said Hartman. “What started as a simple curiosity has become my calling.”  


 2013 Hagan Memorial Scholarship Recipients

James Lorenz

James Lorenz, of Madison, Wisconsin, is a first-year student currently transitioning into a second a career as a funeral director after serving in the military. He believes the traits he learned as a soldier in service to our country will transfer well to a career in service within the funeral service profession. “For me, service calls to mind traits such as loyalty, value, confidence and satisfaction,” said Lorenz. “And, most importantly, this career path will allow me to ‘pay it forward’ to families in need, and follow in the footsteps of funeral service visionaries like Joseph E. Hagan.”

Richard Gausselin

Richard Gausselin of Arlington Heights, IL is a third-year student, and is slated to graduate from Worsham March 2014. He became interested in joining the funeral service profession as a second career after 26 years in law enforcement. “During my police career, I have learned that I can genuinely improve the quality of life to the people in my community by consistently demonstrating compassion, empathy and active listening,” said Gausselin. “Becoming a funeral director is a natural step. I want to use my experience to make a sincere difference in people’s lives.”

Both Lorenz and Gausselin are perusing mortuary science degrees at Worsham College of Mortuary Science in Wheeling, Illinois. They were chosen from a field of several dozen applicants because of their commitment to the funeral service profession and deep interest in pioneering new ways to assist families with the memorialization of a loved one.