Antique Vintage 13

Stanley Cliff Sager

May 12, 2019


Stanley C. “Stan” Sager, loving husband and father, died in Albuquerque on Sunday, May 12, 2019, at the age of 89. His beloved wife of 66 years, Shirley A. Sager, survives him, as do daughters, Gayle Sager Keenan and husband J. Michael Keenan, and Ann Sager. He is also survived by his grandchildren, Meghann Keenan Brown and husband Jason, Brett Robertson and husband Craig, Daniel Keenan, Max Fawver and wife Sharon, James Fawver, all of Albuquerque, Kevin Fawver of Wichita; and by his great-grandchildren, Alyssa, Hunter, and Adrien Fawver, Jack and Alexandria Robertson; as well as by his sisters, Lola Lewis of Liberty, MO, and Portia Maxon of Topeka, KS; and many nieces and nephews. Stan was predeceased by his son, Dr. Kurt M. Sager; grandson, Thomas Michael Keenan; great-grandson, Jaden Kurt Fawver; his brother, Richard Sager and wife Marge; and his parents, Mr. and Mrs. J. I. Sager. Stan was born in Concordia, KS, in 1929, and attended Clyde, Kansas schools. As a senior he earned a Navy scholarship to Kansas University. Upon graduation from KU in 1951, he was commissioned as a U.S. Naval officer. He attended amphibious training at Coronado, CA, and helped take the USS Logan, APA 196, out of mothballs for service in the Korean theater. Stan sailed to what was then Occupied Japan on the Logan, where he was transferred to the LST 602. In 1952, he and the former Shirley Wilkie were married. Eight months later he contracted a paralyzing case of polio while on training exercises with Marines at Camp Pendleton, CA, to prepare for his second tour in waters off Occupied Japan and Korea. Left by the polio as a paraplegic and placed on the Navy retired list, Stan was a good-natured man whose disability did not hold him back. With his wife’s encouragement, he attended law school at Washburn University in Topeka with help of classmates who carried him in his wheelchair up and down two long flights of stairs every school day. Each afternoon he took physical therapy at the VA hospital and cared for son Kurt to give Shirley a break. He graduated with Dean’s Honors. He turned down employment offers from the Kansas Supreme Court and the VA because they planned special accommodations for his disability while he insisted he could compete in a law practice without such accommodations. He taught himself to walk on crutches against medical advice in the belief that few clients would hire a lawyer in a wheelchair in those pre-ADA days. He then practiced law with a tax firm in Topeka until he and Shirley decided to move to Albuquerque with their three small children. A natural storyteller, Stan took great joy in telling wild and humorous yarns to his children and, later, to his grandchildren. He also enjoyed helping daughter Gayle homeschool her three children by assisting with the science curriculum. For years he taught adult Bible classes at his church, St. John’s United Methodist, and was an adjunct professor at the UNM School of Architecture, where he taught seminars on legal issues for design professionals. He was a regular seminar presenter at Bar Association and AIA programs.  Stan had two law practices: one with his law firm, Sager, Curran, Sturges and Tepper, which grew to 23 lawyers with offices in Albuquerque and Las Cruces under his management, and one at night, when he would return to his office to do pro-bono work. He was admitted to practice law in all New Mexico and Kansas courts, the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Tax Court. He received numerous awards from the State Bar for his work with low income New Mexicans, including the coveted Professionalism award. He was instrumental in organizing the Department of Internal Audit for The United Methodist Church and chaired the denomination’s audit committee. He was elected three times as lead N.M. delegate to the Methodist General Conference and was elected to chair its Legislative Committee on Finance and Administration in 2000. He was awarded the Judge Woodrow B. Seals honor from the Perkins School of Theology, SMU. He was a State Bar Commissioner, chaired the Lawyer Referral for the Elderly Project, which included over 300 volunteer attorneys statewide, was an original member of the NM Legal Services Commission and was treasurer of the NM Conference Methodist Foundation and of the Zia Chapter, Paralyzed Veterans of America. He was president of the Child Guidance Center and of Sandia Kiwanis, amd gave pro-bono services in organizing the Roadrunner Food Bank, the Storehouse, Grace Incorporated, The Confraternity of the Sacred Heart of Mary, and many United Methodist churches and other charities. As a practicing attorney he represented many architectural and engineering firms and occasional physicians and surgeons. He authored numerous historical articles and wrote two published books, ¡Viva Elfego! and Four Corners: Where the Holy Spirit Touches Navajo Hearts and numerous treatises on internal auditing, disability and professionalism. He was awarded the honorary degree Doctor of Law by Washburn School of Law, to whose graduating class he delivered the keynote commencement address in 2013. Stan, in his later years, returned to using a manual wheelchair, in which he rolled over much of the US and all Canadian provinces with Shirley. They drove all over Europe and Brazil, even though hotels were often less than ideal for a disabled person. Whatever architectural barriers or human prejudices he faced, Stan remembered the saying that had gotten him through the hard early days of his disability, with Shirley’s backing: “Do my best with what I’ve got.” That’s what he did. Family members wish to thank, as Stan did, the wonderful people at the SCI (Spinal Cord Injury) Unit at the VA as well as other units there for their constant, kind, and professional care. Warm thanks, also, to the caregivers from Home Instead, Anthony and Jeanette, in particular. Many thanks to Washburn students and faculty who made law school possible. Finally, many thanks to friends and associates across the Methodist Church. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to St. John’s United Methodist Church, 2626 Arizona St. NE, Albuquerque, 87110, or to the New Mexico State Bar Foundation, P.O. Box 92860, Albuquerque, 87199. A funeral service will be held on Monday, May 20, 2019, 10:00 a.m. at St. John's United Methodist Church, 2626 Arizona St. NE. Burial will follow on Tuesday, May 21, 2019, 11:15 a.m. at Santa Fe National Cemetery

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Funeral Service
May 20, 2019

10:00 AM
St. John's United Methodist Church
2626 Arizona Street NE
Albuquerque, NM 87110

Graveside Service
May 21, 2019

11:15 AM
Santa Fe National Cemetery

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