Following His Lead
Gary Haag was the Pied Piper of the neighborhood. Children would flock to his house when they saw him drive home from work. He would lead the children off to games of baseball, soccer or hockey. Bicycles and scooters would be left scattered in the Haag driveway, their owners off playing with Mr. Haag and his kids.
It was never about winning, or competing to be strongest and fastest. Everyone was invited. Even Mr. Haag's 2-year-old daughter, Molly, would join in and kick the ball when she could.
He would get home to Ossining, N.Y., from his job at Marsh & McLennan at 6:30 p.m., change clothes, and rush through dinner so he could play with the children until the sun went down ‹ or until his wife, Mary, put her foot down. His sons, Michael and Kevin, started homework right after school so they would be ready when dad came home.
Mr. Haag, 36, loved sports and adored children. Coaching united the two. He coached a peewee football team before he got married and he coached a T-ball team after he had kids.
He was an avid sports fan and would bring his kids to Yankees and Rangers games. Sports was a glue for Mr. Haag and his children. "It was something special they shared together," his wife said.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 11, 2001.
Gary Haag, loved to make folks laugh
When Gary Robert Haag went to social functions while growing up in Chatham, he would bring a camera to take pictures of people having fun. But those who met him did not need any reminders of good times, because Mr. Haag would always make them laugh and smile.
"Gary had a way of making the room burst into laughter," said his stepsister, Leslie Reagoso.
A vice president in the insurance claims department of Marsh and McLennan, Mr. Haag was working on the 100th floor of One World Trade Center when a hijacked plane slammed into the tower.
Born in Livingston, Mr. Haag was raised in Chatham, where he played baseball and football in high school. He met his closest friend, David Roberts, on the football team.
Mr. Haag was a huge Yankees fan and loved the Dallas Cowboys. He coached a little league baseball team in Ossining, N.Y., and would organize hockey, soccer and football games for his children and neighborhood kids. He also loved playing golf, and participated in a yearly golf tournament with Roberts.
A graduate of Kutztown University in Pennsylvania, Mr. Haag would often travel to review insurance claims for his international clients. He went to the Carolinas to review property damage after hurricanes and tornadoes. One of his most recent business trips was to Italy. Roberts said the 36-year-old Mr. Haag would go "wherever there was a disaster."
But he would not stay away from his family for too long. Every morning he helped his wife, Mary, get their children, -- Michael, 6, Kevin, 4, and Molly, 2, -- ready for school.
The morning of the tragedy Mr. Haag rose earlier than usual. The last time Mary spoke to her husband was the night before. Mrs. Haag said she heard about the incident on her way home from dropping a son at school. She said she was terrified. She looked toward Manhattan from her home overlooking the Hudson River, and saw smoke rising.
"It's been a lot of ups and downs," she said, "But we are getting through the loss with the help of family and friends."
Mr. Haag also is survived by his father, Robert Haag of Chatham, and his sisters, Lori Herrmann, Jennifer Williams and Deborah Rogero.
Mr. Haag will be remembered at a 10 a.m. service Wednesday at St. Augustine's Church, Ossining.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Sisters of Life, 450 W. 51st St., New York, N.Y., 10019.
Profile by Navid Iqbal published in THE STAR-LEDGER.