Former state senator, North Smithfield councilor & Citizen of the Year dies at age 85


A five-term state senator and former president of the North Smithfield Town Council, who was once named Citizen of the Year in town, has died at the age of 85.

James Gorman Hagan, of Little Compton died on Friday, Jan. 13 at the Hope Health Hulitar Hospice Center.

The son of the late Joseph Henry Hagan and Claire Gorman Hagan, the late former senator grew up in Pawtucket and attended Lasalle Academy, graduating in the Class of 1954. He would later be inducted into the LaSalle Hall of Fame in 2008.

He served as president of his class for four consecutive years at Providence College, where he graduated in 1958. Hagan later served as president of the school’s Alumni Association and was a longtime member of the President’s Council.

After college, Hagan was a first lieutenant in the US Army Intelligence Corps, and then served as president of the North Smithfield Town Council. He was a five term Rhode Island State Senator with his wife Sheila serving as his de facto campaign manager throughout his political career.

For 27 years, Hagan served as senior vice president in the international division of Tupperware Worldwide where he traveled to 32 countries and 45 states. Upon leaving Tupperware, he became president of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, a position he held for nearly 20 years. In that capacity, he also served as the former president of the New England Chamber of Commerce Executives Association, and the vice-chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce Executives Association.

During that time he worked closely with Buddy Cianci on the ‘Providence Renaissance’ and was part of the team that created such Providence staples as Waterfire, the television show Providence, the Rhode Island Convention Center, and the RI Business Expo.

After retirement Hagan became the moderator of the A Lively Experiment on PBS for five years, where he interviewed top newsmakers in the state. He also created and produced the New England Golf Expo, with all the proceeds going to the Boys and Girls Club

During his career, Hagan received the US Senator John H Chafee Distinguished Citizen Award. as well as the North Smithfield Citizen of the Year Award. He served as a board member of Collete Vacations, Sovereign Bank, the Northern RI Advisory Board of Fleet Bank and a Corporator of the Woonsocket Institution for Savings.

Hagan is survived by his wife of 49 years, Sheila, as well as his two children Kelly Hagan and her husband Richard Lumazza; James Hagan and his wife Stephanie; his only grandchild Mia Hagan Lumazza; and his brother Joseph Hagan and wife Patricia, and their son Kevin and his family.

Relatives and friends are invited to attend the funeral mass at St. Catherine’s By the Sea at 74 Simmons Road in Little Compton on Saturday, Jan. 21 at 11 a.m., followed immediately by a reception.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Hagan Scholarship Fund at Providence College (c/o Office of Annual Giving Harkins Hall Room 412. One Cunningham Square. Providence, RI 02918-0001)

His complete obituary can be found here.

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  1. My sincere sympathies to the Hagan family, especially Jim’s wife, Sheila and their children. I had the pleasure and good fortune of knowing Jim my entire life. His obituary covers half of the outstanding contributions he made over the course of his lifetime. Jim’s contributions to his communities, as a member of the Town Council, as a State Senator and with the Providence Chamber of Commerce were commendable. More importantly his contribution to children of North Smithfield and children like myself, from Blackstone, were commendable. As children, we were given every advantage as members of Tupperware. Many of us learned to swim there, competed on the swim team and challenged and bested some of the best private swim clubs in the state. Many of us became lifeguards and swimming instructors, teaching others the skills we learned through the philanthropy and generosity of men like Jim Hagan. I thank you Jim for your lifetime of service.

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