Elmer F. Hagner Jr., a former Anne Arundel County police chief who served in the General Assembly for 16 years, died Wednesday after falling last month at his Annapolis home. The 85-year-old Annapolis resident died at Anne Arundel Medical Center.
A decorated World War II veteran, he was the county's police chief from 1964 to 1969, after which he entered politics as a Democrat and was elected to four terms in the Maryland House of Delegates.
"As a police officer he was very much a gentle man, respected and liked. The fact he was overwhelmingly elected to the General Assembly speaks to his popularity," said the county's former executive, Robert R. Neall. "He was soft-spoken and was genuinely nice and accommodating to people."
Born in Baltimore and raised in Solley and Orchard Beach, Mr. Hagner attended Anne Arundel County public schools. After working as a laborer at the old Pullman Standard Car Co., a railway passenger car foundry in Curtis Bay, and at Davison Chemical, he joined the Army Air Corps and was a radio operator and tail gunner during World War II.
He completed 47 combat missions in Europe and North Africa. He was awarded the Bronze Star and the Distinguished Flying Cross with four oak leaf clusters, and had 14 Battle Stars. Among his missions was the initial raid of the Ploesti oil fields in Romania. He attained the rank of sergeant.
After the war Mr. Hagner joined the Anne Arundel County Police Department, rising to become its chief. He was a 1955 graduate of the FBI National Academy and was past president of the Maryland Chiefs of Police Association.
"He was a conscientious man, strictly honest," said former Anne Arundel County executive Joseph W. Alton Jr., a longtime friend. "He was a modest man, not really that outgoing."
After resigning from the Police Department because of a back injury, Mr. Hagner began his political career. First elected in 1971 to the House of Delegates, he was a member of the House Judiciary Committee. He served until 1987.
"He made the transition smoothly from the Police Department to the State House," said John R. Hammond, Anne Arundel County budget officer.
In 1977 Mr. Hagner introduced a bill that would have imparted an extra sentence to those who wore a face mask or concealed their identities while engaged in criminal activity. The measure failed.
Mr. Hagner was a life member of Annapolis Elks Lodge, the FBI National Academy Alumni and the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 70. A thoroughfare leading to the Anne Arundel County Police Academy in Davidsonville was named Elmer F. Hagner Lane.
"His family was his life," said his daughter, Barbara L. Reardon of Annapolis. "He and my mother had the perfect marriage."
A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Monday at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church, 109 Duke of Gloucester St., where he was a member.
Survivors also include his wife of 58 years, the former Anna C. Lewnes; a son, Darryl R. Hagner of Owings; a brother, James F. Hagner of Orchard Beach; a sister, Rose Rickert of Pasadena; 10 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.