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Lyric Opera Circle’s Lyric Opera Ball – Honorary Chairmen

Marilyn J. and Kenneth V. Hager met on a blind date. The person who set them up was a good judge of character – they’ve been married for 43 years now. They are serving as the honorary chairmen of the Lyric Opera Circle’s Lyric Opera Ball – For the Love of Opera. 

The Hagers are the parents of two children, and they also have a much beloved granddaughter. Both of their children are classically-trained singers who have performed on the Lyric Opera stage. Singing lessons were a win-win situation for the two generations: the younger ones honed their skills, and their parents discovered that they loved opera. 

Ken has been a trustee of the Lyric Opera for more than 10 years and served as the organization’s board president from 2014 until 2018. In addition, he has served on the board of the Lyric Opera Foundation. Marilyn and Ken are enthusiastic advocates of the Lyric Opera, and have been since the days when it was still located at the Lyric Theatre, prior to its move to the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts during the 2011-2012 season.    

Marilyn and Ken both are natives of the area. Marilyn grew up in the Northeast. Her schooldays were spent at Northeast High School, the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and Research College of Nursing, where she fulfilled the requirements to be a registered nurse. She careered as a labor and delivery nurse, ultimately becoming assistant head nurse at Research Medical Center, where she also taught childbirth education classes. Ken received his education at Rockhurst High School and The University of Kansas. After nearly a decade in public accounting, he joined Kansas City Southern Industries in 1984. Four years later, he became the chief financial officer at DST Systems, remaining there until his retirement in 2014. 

Giving back to their community is a priority for Marilyn and Ken. In addition to serving as a caregiver for her parents and other family members, Marilyn has served on the board of the Camellot Academy, a children’s fine art day camp in Kansas City. She also has been tireless in leading efforts to raise funding for Catholic Charities, Avila University, and the American Cancer Society. Ken’s current commitments include serving on the board of Avila University, the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, Swope Corridor/Upper Room, and the National Association of Corporate Directors. Organizations that have benefited from his leadership in the past are the Greater Kansas City Chapter of the American Cancer Society, the Greater Kansas City Sports Commission, Rockhurst High School, Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas, and Blue Hills Country Club. Together, they have served as event chairmen and honorary chairmen of the Avila University Steer Dinner and as presidents of the Snow Ball for Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas in 2016. 

 The Lyric Opera Ball – For the Love of Opera will be held on April 13th
at the Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center. 

Also featured in the February 16, 2019 issue of The Independent
By: Heather N. Paxton

Photo Credit: Strauss Peyton

Heather N. Paxton

Heather N. Paxton’s name first appeared in The Independent in a birth announcement back in — oh, never mind. In the mid-1990s, Heather joined the staff as a replacement for a friend who was expecting a visit from the stork. (Let’s hope Heather sent a baby present. The boy is a college graduate now.) Her 20s, 30s, 40s, and now her 50s: Heather has been a staff member for at least brief periods in all of these decades. She is most at home in the office when she is perusing the archives.



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