John “Johnny” Michael Hagler

John, “Johnny” Michael Hagler, of Independence, MO, died on August 08, 2017. He was born January 25, 1943 in Springfield, MO to Leo and Birdie Hagler.

Johnny is survived by his daughter Kaia Dawn Hagler of Independence, MO; bonus sons James Schaffer (Stephanie) of Liberty, MO and Mark Schaffer (Astrid) of Lutz, FL; bonus daughter Janna Cox (Jeff) of Independence, MO; bonus granddaughters Valerie Schaffer, Jordan Straits, Taylor Liles, Madison Schaffer, Syera Schaffer, and Nykki Schaffer; bonus grandsons Seth Greenback and Dylan Schaffer; bonus great-grandsons Riley Schaffer and Bennett Straits; bonus great-granddaughter Audrey Straits; as well as many close friends near and far.

Johnny began showing talent as a percussionist as early as age 5. Leo and Birdie fostered this talent and Johnny began playing professionally as an early teenager. He was the back-up percussionist for the Ozark Jubilee, had his own Dixieland Jazz ban, and was a member of a jazz band with many of his mentors.

Johnny graduated from Parkview High school in 1961. He served in the USMC before attendingand graduating from Wichita State University in 1967. He was a percussion major earning a degree in Music Education. His 4 years at Wichita, with dear friends, were some of his most cherished. He went on to proudly serve his country in the USAF, including a tour in Vietnam, as an Armed Forces Courier. Upon returning, he earned his Masters in Counseling from Central Missouri State University. Johnny married Lolita Gayle Kumbier in 1972 and they welcomed daughter, Kaia Dawn, in November 1974. Johnny also became proud bonus Dad of Jamie, Mark, and Janna. Although they divorced, Gayle and Johnny became close later in life and enjoyed one another’s friendship until Gayle’s death in 2009. Johnny enjoyed years teaching band and choral music, playing in the Springfield Symphony, working as a chemical dependency and Reality Therapy Certified counselor, playing in rock and folk bands, and volunteering at his church, The Guthrie Center, in Great Barrington, MA.

Johnny’s greatest joy in life came from being a Dad, bonus Dad, bonus granddad/greatgranddad, and dear friend. He lived his life by the philosophy that love is most important. He loved with his whole heart and gave freely of himself to care for all.

Services for Johnny will be at 10:00a.m. Wednesday, August 23, 2017 at Central Christian Church, 1475 N Washington Ave, Springfield, MO 65802. Visitation will be prior to services at 9:00a.m. also at Central Christian Church. Interment with full military honors will be at 1:00p.m. Wednesday, August 23, 2017 at Missouri Veterans Cemetery, 5201 S Southward Rd, Springfield, MO 65804.

In lieu of flowers the family requests memorial contributions be made to Paralyzed Veterans of America; Disabled American Veterans; Wayside Waifs, 3901 Martha Truman Rd, Kansas City, MO 64137; St. Joseph’s Indian School, 1301 N Main St, Chamberlain, SD 57325; or The Guthrie Center, 4 Van Deusenville Rd, Great Barrington, MA 01230. These were all organizations dear to Johnny.


  1. Sandra Yoder on August 14, 2017 at 6:26 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss, praying for you and your family.

  2. Jim Mulloy on August 15, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    We are so sorry for your loss. John was a very compassionate person. He will be greatly missed by all. I feel honored to have known him and been his friend.
    We shared many times together in the Air Force at Clark AB, Philippines. Lots of great memories were recalled over the subsequent years as we reminisced.
    May the many blessings of good times support you in these times.
    Our love,
    Jim and Theresa

  3. Ed Heiss on August 15, 2017 at 6:55 pm

    John and I were friends for the better part of 60 years. In looking back, I see him as one of the most inclusive persons ever. He not only accepted who might be less than acceptable to the general population but he actually sought them out. We went to high school together and he made friends with all of our classmates and in particular reached out to some who to those who were different and embraced them for their talents and their particular skills. He also reached out to those of different nationalities in his travels throughout the world. He included other persons long before it was politically correct.

    We spent many good times together and talked many hours on the phone. I treasure those times and recall his comments and support fondly. I miss him immensely. He was a “good guy”.

    I send my deepest sympathy, condolences and love to his family. His death is a loss to everyone who knew him. May the Lord bless each of his family and may He bring them peace.

  4. Gary Harlan on August 16, 2017 at 9:42 am

    Our trails merged in March 1982 when a group of us Vietnam vets established the Ozarks Vets Center in Springfield. John stepped in and headed the counseling program. He not only organized support groups for Vietnam combat vets but also groups for their spouses and kids. In addition to that he established a 24-hour suicide hotline, devoting a considerable amount of time training hotline volunteers. John was there for a good many Vietnam vets in the Ozarks at a time when they were most definitely in need of his assistance.

  5. Earline Hargis Dixon on August 16, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    Johnny was an exceptionally talented guy. We were close friends at Parkview High School and Johnny let me wear his football letter jacket a few times. His band accompanied my singing in a few talent assemblies. I went on to study music and he went to Wichita for his studies. When he returned, he would always drop in to the music building where I was at the end of the day to be sure I had transportation home. He was truly a wonderful friend.
    My condolences to Johnny’s family and friends. He will be fondly remembered by all whose paths he crossed. As His friend Arlo Guthrie would have said, that soldier made it home.

  6. Jeff Wood on August 18, 2017 at 11:01 am

    Prayers and condolences to the family and friends. He sounds like he would have been a bright spot in anyone’s life. Ed H. and I have been friends for about a third of the time they were friends. Ed talked about him after his trips back home with great fondness.

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