Dr. Louis Mager, whose four-decade career in education included a 20-year stint as Enfield superintendent of schools, passed away Sunday, Feb. 3 at St. Francis Hospital in Hartford. He was 83.
The 1947 graduate of Hale-Ray High School in East Haddam began teaching in 1955, including a four-year term as teacher and coach at East Hampton High School. He spent four years as guidance director at Coventry High School and two years as principal at Bacon Academy before moving to Enfield in 1967 as assistant superintendent of schools.
In 1972, Mager was promoted to superintendent, and served two decades in that post before retiring in 1992. Upon retirement, he filled in as interim superintendent in more than a half-dozen towns, including Canton and Suffield.
During his tenure in Enfield, he presided over a school system that changed drastically, including the closure of Kosciuszko Junior High School and four other schools.
"He was the consummate educator," longtime assistant superintendent Tony Torre said. "He understood the importance of public schools in relation to our democratic process. Lou will be remembered as a process-oriented, intellectual leader."
Board of Education Chairman Tim Neville was hired by Mager as a teacher in 1973.
"Lou was quite a guy, and he thoroughly enjoyed what he did," Neville said. "He was a mentor to me, and I learned a lot from him. He had total commitment to public education. It was all about the kids, and he stood up when it counted."
Enfield Mayor Scott Kaupin was president of the Fermi High School Class of 1983, and served as Fermi's student representative on the Board of Education under Mager's guidance.
"I remember him always encouraging me to be involved in discussions with the board," Kaupin said. "He always fought for what he felt the school system needed, and was not shy about expressing his feelings about it."
Longtime teacher and state representative Bill Kiner also recalled how hard Mager worked to ensure the best possible education for Enfield's children.
"He used all of his skills to get the dollars that his kids needed to obtain the best education possible," Kiner wrote in a forthcoming "Kiner's Korner" column. "Dr. Mager had such a wonderful way with people. He would disarm his severest critics with a little bit of wit, a big smile, and a hearty laugh. He was always able to get what he wanted and what his kids needed." (Editor's note: the complete Kiner's Korner piece will be published Wednesday on Enfield Patch.)
Mager received the "Golden Shield Award for Courage Under Fire" from the Connecticut Association of School Administration in 1986, and the "Distinguished Service Award" from the New England Association of School Superintendents in 1992.
He is survived by his wife, Rita (Kaufman) Mager, four children and nine grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held Friday, Feb. 8 at 2 p.m. at Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek Cemetery, Route 151, Moodus. A memorial period will be observed Thursday, Feb. 7 from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. at Quail Hollow Club House, 1 OakView Place, Vernon.