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Paul C. Hagan, advertising executive and sailor

Paul C. Hagan, a longtime advertising executive for Maryland-based companies, died Feb. 15. He was 83.
Paul C. Hagan, a longtime advertising executive for Maryland-based companies, died Feb. 15. He was 83. (Handout photo)

Paul C. Hagan, a veteran Baltimore advertising executive who brought his creative genius to such legendary Maryland-based companies as the old National Brewing Co., Martin Marietta, Marriott Hotels and McCormick Spices, died Feb. 15 of a massive heart attack at his Mays Chapel home. He was 83.

The son of Henry Best Hagan, a Black & Decker executive, and Pauline Chapman Hagan, Paul Chapman Hagan was born in Frederick and raised in Towson where he graduated from Towson High School.

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After high school, he was a Coast Guard reservist while attending the Maryland Institute College of Art, from which he graduated in 1951.

Mr. Hagan began his advertising career in New York working for McCann-Erickson, and after 15 years, returned to Baltimore in the 1960s where he was creative director at Lionhill Studio, before joining W. B. Doner & Co., where he rose to become senior art director.

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In 1971, he left Doner and joined VanSant Dugdale & Co where he was named agency vice president and was assistant creative director. In the late 1970s, he returned to Doner where he was named vice president and associate creative director.

"I was a copywriter and he was creative director at Doner and we were a team. He was a wonderful guy and there are no other words to describe him," said Tom Hemphill, who retired as creative director at Kalish & Rice in Philadelphia.

"He was a great creative inspiration for me and was always full of great ideas. As an ad man, his style was impeccable and he knew how to create terrific visual ads," said Mr. Hemphill, who lives in Chestnut Hill, Pa.

"He was a quiet man and very studied. When you were talking to him, he was taking it all in and then he'd respond. He loved introducing people to new ideas and things and sharing what he knew," said Mr. Hemphill.

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One of the things he introduced Mr. Hemphill to was soft-shell crab sandwiches at the old Connolly's Pier 5 Pratt Street seafood house.

"I'm from Des Moines and my first reaction was, 'You want me to eat that?' Paul insisted and I've been eating them ever since. I love them," said Mr. Hemphill, with a laugh.

John Parlato, a freelance advertising copywriter and former Fells Point resident, worked with Mr. Hagan at Doner.

"When I came to Doner in 1979, Paul was the associate creative director and the first person I met, and we remained friends for the rest of his life. I was just a junior copywriter and he was never condescending. Even though I was fresh and green, he treated me as an equal," said Mr. Parlato, who later became creative director at Doner.

"Paul was always very calm and thoughtful because most people in the ad business are running around in a panic all the time. He was reasoned, calm and deliberate and I enjoyed working with him," said Mr. Parlato, who recently moved to Washington. "He never lost his cool and in the middle of chaos, his voice was one of clarity. He always saw the big picture."

Mr. Hagan had an impressive portfolio of clients, some of which included G. Heilman Brewing Co., Wrangler clothing, Mrs. Filberts margarine, Roy Rogers fast food, Commercial Credit Co., Equitable Trust Bank, American Dairy Association, Misty Harbor, Arby's and Klondike Bars.

He worked in both print and broadcast advertising.

"I feel I am also a strong A.D. who doesn't mind writing a few headlines — even enjoy doing it; and get along well with copy people, account personnel, and won't seize up talking to clients," wrote Mr. Hagan in his resume.

"People liked working with Paul," said Mr. Parlato."He was very thoughtful. A lot of creative people are quick to object to an idea and throw out the baby with the bath water, but not Paul. He'd sit and shape an idea. He was patient which is a very important trait to have when you're in a creative business."

Mr. Hagan was a regular at Hollander's or Love's for lunch and then the Chesapeake after work, said Mr. Parlato, back when North Charles Street above North Avenue hummed as the city's ad hub.

Even though he retired from Doner in 1996, Mr. Hagan kept his hand in and founded S.H. & Friends, an advertising consulting business.

"One of his clients was the Social Security Administration," said his wife of 34 years, the former Sheila Devlin.

Through the years, Mr. Hagan won many prestigious awards for his work in print and television advertising.

While working in New York and living in Oyster Bay, N.Y., Mr. Hagan learned to sail, which became a "lifelong passion," his wife said.

In addition to sailing the Chesapeake Bay, where he was a well-known yachtsman, Mr. Hagan sailed twice in the Annapolis-Bermuda race aboard the Sleeper, his 39-foot sloop.

"I sailed with Paul in the Annapolis-Bermuda race and one night we were in a pretty bad storm. The crew was huddling in the cockpit when a large wave rolled over the boat. We were terrified," recalled Mr. Parlato. "Paul was steering and in that calm voice of his said, 'Dave, can you refill my scotch, please?'"

Mr. Hagan, who had lived in Cockeysville for 25 years, owned a second home with his wife in Frenchtown, Cecil County. He also had built a home on the Magothy River and renovated a Fells Point row house.

In addition to sailing, Mr. Hagan, who was an inveterate jazz fan, enjoyed playing the piano, harpsichord, saxophone, clarinet and flute. He also was an accomplished painter of Eastern Shore landscapes and maritime scenes.

A celebration of Mr. Hagan's life will be held from 1 p.m to 3 p.m. March 10 at the L'Hirondelle Club, 7601 L'Hirondelle Club Road, Ruxton.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Hagan is survived by a son, Jed Hagan of Richmond, Va.; a daughter, Kellie Hagan of Fairfield, Pa.; a stepdaughter, Michele Hearn Stewart of Atlanta; and four grandchildren. An earlier marriage to the former Emily Haines ended in divorce.

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