I had the pleasure of meeting Horace Hagedorn in the last year of his life. Three times at dinner with friends and on several other occasions. He liked to hear the spirited discussions around the dinner table and to throw in a little encouragement if he happened to agree with you. He had an impish way about him that I thought was very funny. I told him once that my wife was a significant contributor to his wealth, since our shed always contained several bags of his Miracle Gro or some other of his company’s products. He said, “That’s good! Tell her to buy some more.”
I attended a celebration of his life at Hofstra University last year and was impressed with the number of people whose lives he had touched. I was impressed with the obvious affection he had for the people that he has helped over the years, as well as the affection that they showered on him.
Wordsworth said in a poem once “getting and spending we lay waste our powers..” That line certainly did not apply to Horace. He was real good at getting, through hard work and planning, but I came to believe that the real joy for Horace came from giving. Horace used his wealth as a tool. Just as a craftsman uses his tools to build houses, Horace used his life’s wealth to build a better society.
I’ll bet that during the height of his healthy productive years he was a tough taskmaster. I didn’t know him then so I can’t know for sure, but look what his dedication and personal discipline allowed him to do. The generosity shown to the various and numerous charitable causes that he helped fund is legendary.
Good-bye Mr. Hagedorn and God bless. You are not here anymore, but your example is sure to inspire others, and that may be the best part of your legacy.