Donald John Hagestuen, 83, of Aitkin, was born on April 24, 1937, at home on his parents’ farm in Starbuck, MN. He is the son of Melvin J. and Juline (Nordaune) Hagestuen. He passed away on October 29, 2020, surrounded by family. Don attended District 92 Country School in White Bear Township through the eighth grade. He graduated from Starbuck High School in 1955. He continued his education at Augsburg College, graduating in 1959 with a B.A. in mathematics and a minor in physical education. He came to Aitkin the fall of 1959 to teach mathematics for grades seven and eight as well as coach jr. high and elementary basketball. In the fall of 1960, a new crop of teachers came to Aitkin among them was Sonja Storvick, a physical education teacher. They were engaged by Christmas of that year and married the next June in 1961. Together, they nurtured a close family of four children. Don and Sonja considered one another their best friend, enjoying daily conversations over coffee and sharing stories from the day. Don taught for thirty-four years and retired in 1993 from Aitkin High School. He enjoyed his students, his colleagues, mathematics, and tried hard not to leave anyone behind. “Questions? Comments? Shouts of despair?” at the end of each lesson summed up his hope that all were heard and seen. This extended beyond the classroom; kindness, compassion, and grace spilled from him his entire life. In 1970, he was named “Teacher of the Year” by the Aitkin School Board. He began the tennis program at Aitkin High School, coaching from 1975-1983. In September, 2020, the Aitkin Tennis Center was named in his honor. Don was active in the community and church. He served on the library board, park board, and, in his younger years, was a member of the J.C.’s. He was very involved in the life of First Lutheran Church. He served on church council for twelve years and was on the church property committee for over thirty years. His servanthood in life was a blessing to everyone who knew him. His favorite teaching to his grandchildren was “Go make it a good day for someone else.” He found joy creating in his wood shop, wood carving, pheasant hunting with his sons and his brother, Lyndon, vegetable gardening, and meetings at the Dotzler shop. He took pride in fixing things and his grandchildren carry this forward. His dogs were constant companions throughout his life.
Don is survived by his wife, Sonja, and their four children: Rebecca (Curt) Wyffels, Naomi (Jason) LaFrenz, Kurt (Kelly) Hagestuen, Erik (Moe) Hagestuen and twelve grandchildren: Andrew Wyffels, Rachel Wyffels, Emma LaFrenz, Maddy LaFrenz, Sam LaFrenz, Jacob Hagestuen, Nathan Hagestuen, Joshua Hagestuen, Alaina Hagestuen, Nora Hagestuen, Griffin Hagestuen, and Linnea Hagestuen, sister Judy (Dan) Forde, and brother, Lyndon (Ann) Hagestuen. Don was preceded in death by his parents, Melvin and Juline, and his brother, Richard.
Don loved the camps affiliated with First Lutheran Church (FLC), especially Camp Hiawatha and Camp Vermilion, both under the title of Voyageurs Lutheran Ministry (VLM). Because of his deep relationship with VLM and FLC, memorials can be made to either organization. A Memorial service is pending with Sorensen-Root-Thompson Funeral Home & Cremation Services in Aitkin. To leave a message of condolence please go to www.srtfuneral.com.
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