Many knew Tom as the cool dentist in Port Ludlow, although his patients came from all around the Northwest to see him. His excellent work, coupled with a signature sense of humor, made crossing Puget Sound, or even the Canadian border, well worth the trip. Being a third-generation dentist, he and his patients were a natural fit.
He was a man of science, but also a man of art. Playing jazz and blues riffs was like breathing to Tom. If he was sitting, there was probably a guitar in his lap.
Before the rigors of the University of Washington’s School of Dentistry took him from his chums, he spent his salad days as a bartender at Parnell’s jazz club in Pioneer Square, absorbing all he could from the greats – Bill Evans, Herb Ellis, Kenny Burrell, along with locals Overton Berry and Bruce Phares.
At the time, Pioneer Square was the epicenter of Seattle’s fledgling artist community, including Jimmy Manolides, Joe Goldberg and others. Their art, as well as their friendship, filled Tom and Zoe’s home with visual and intellectual richness. The culinary artistry that was to become one of his great passions in life he shared with longtime friend Thierry Rautureau, the famous “Chef in the Hat.”
When Tom and Zoe moved to Quilcene in the ’90s, the sophisticated urban patina was quickly rubbed away by the harsh realities of rural life with its power outages, road washouts, predatory wildlife and general culture shock. Once the wilds of Dabob were tamed, he looked elsewhere, spending summers off the wild west coast of Vancouver Island, reeling in 30-pound king salmon on 20-pound test line.
Tom was an eclectic: Part aristocrat, part hillbilly. Part Coquilles St. Jacques, part hot dogs. Part Miles Davis, part Django Reinhardt. He was one of a handful of people who could discuss Heisenberg’s principle of uncertainty and Barnacle Parp’s chainsaw safety in a single sentence. And he was incredibly funny.
As such, his appetite for ideas was insatiable. Keeping his mind fed required enough books to fill a library. Not surprisingly, it didn’t take long for Tom and Zoe to connect with the Jefferson County Library. As a longtime member of the Board of Trustees and active Friend of the Library, he helped guide the organization through some tumultuous times, watching it blossom and thrive.
“He studied issues, contributed helpful comments to the discussion and he made us laugh,” former library director Ray Serebrin wrote. “He was a good man who cared about others, cared about his community and made the world a better place. What could be better said about any of us?”
It is said that talent is God’s gift to you; what you do with it is your gift to God. Tom spent a major part of his life sharing his talent by helping us get well and calming our fears when we were sick or in pain and scared. And, often, making us laugh about it.
But it was his sense of humor, his wonder and his curiosity that kept him seeking new gifts to share with those who love him, always finding a rare and interesting patch to add to the strange and beautiful quilt that was his life. It was his art. It is forever.
Tom was born in Seattle to Richard B. Hagen and Gloria Gunn Hagen and spent his childhood in Seattle and then Mercer Island. He graduated from Mercer Island High School in 1969 and the Evergreen State College in 1973.
He decided to follow the footsteps of his father and grandfather into the practice of dentistry. He graduated from dental school in 1983 and, after practicing at Pacific Medical Center in Seattle for many years, established a practice in Port Ludlow in 1997.
Tom is survived by his wife, Zoe Durham; his sister, Dale Hagen of Dabob; his brother, Jim, of Ellensburg; his nephew, Jeremy Hagen, and his wife, Stevie, of Mercer Island; as well as extended family and many, many cherished friends.
We never know we go when we are going —
We jest and shut the Door —
Fate—following—behind us bolts it —
And we accost no more –
– Emily Dickinson