Since Jakob “Jack” Haag loved to tell his life story…. the staff at Village Funeral Home thought we’d share the very eventful life of Jack, not only as a European refugee, but also respectively as a veteran of our United States Military on this Memorial Day 2021.
A native Yugoslavian born in 1933, Mr. Haag was a refugee landing in the United States in 1957 with a job offer from John Deere in Chicago already in his hands. But, a stop in Dearborn to visit family and friends on his way to Chicago changed the entire trajectory of his life.
Those same family and friends convinced him there was no need to go to Chicago when he could work for Ford Motor Company. So on a Friday morning, Ford employees found someone to translate his papers, because they were written in German, and he immediately started his career as a tool and die maker.
In 1958, he was drafted into the US Army and trained at Ft. Hood, Texas alongside rock ‘n roller Elvis Presley. The entire unit was transferred to Germany – while Jakob stood out because he spoke German, Elvis stood out because he had a private residence on the base.
With his fluent German, he enjoyed hanging out with the locals. His daughter Brigette said, “He enjoyed his service. He enjoyed the local people and carrying supplies they may need into town.” Then one day while getting a haircut, the local barber invited him to a local masquerade ball and Jakob was on the lookout for the barber’s daughter behind her mask. He danced all night with who he thought was the barber’s daughter and at the end of the evening, when the masks were lifted, he found it to be someone he didn’t know – Angela.
Being the gentleman he was, Jakob walked Angela home right to a Braunfels Castle. No Angela wasn’t royalty; her father was the chauffer for the Duke and Duchess of Braunfels! The two dated and Jakob asked for a six-month extension in Germany. It was granted and Jakob and Angela married in 1960 and she would be forever known as Jakob’s “princess.”
After his honorary discharge after serving from March 7, 1958 until June 30, 1960, Jakob started his job back at Ford Motor Company. Angela eventually joined him in the United States and, after a series of issues over property ownership in Austria, Jakob and Angela became US citizens alongside each other in 2002.
They raised two daughters in Dearborn and eventually Jakob moved to Groveland Township to be cared for by his daughter. After succumbing to pancreatic cancer in September 2020, Mr. Haag was laid to rest with honors at Great Lakes National Cemetery.
Mr. Haag – we are forever grateful for your service to our great nation and are inspired by your desire to live out the American dream with your family. Rest in peace.