On Thursday, January 18, 2018 the world lost a ray of light when Dena Marie Hagen, 63, passed away at home with her daughter by her side.

Dena was first and foremost a teacher, serving for more than 43 years (25 in the Federal Way School District) and never wavering in her dedication to her job. After her daughter, her students were the light of her life. They gave her purpose everyday and kept her motivated to keep fighting. This past year Dena became the school librarian, something that stoked her love of teaching more than ever, working to ignite each student’s love of learning and reading.

Dena considered every student as one of her own but her daughter was her true partner in crime. From the time the two met they were thick as thieves; two people so deeply in love with one another’s spirit that not a day went by that hundreds of messages didn’t fly back and forth. Though they were only gifted 29 years together, they lived many lives: from losing each other on the top of the Eiffel Tower, to road tripping across the US, cruising the Mediterranean, dogsledding in Alaska or, their favorite, laying on opposite sides of the couch, quietly reading – they’ve done it all.

A personality like Dena’s could only come from two people as strong-willed and full of love as Dale and Marie Hagen, shaped further by the unflagging (and often loud) love of her four siblings: David Hagen, Cathy Schmidt, Daniel Hagen and Reka Swinford. She loved listening to family debates, retelling childhood stories and gathering around the table for spaghetti and meatballs. The keeper of many heirlooms, Dena loved sharing family history and was dedicated to making sure the stories live on for generations.

Dena impacted thousands of people over the years through teaching, volunteering, time with friends and her dedication to her family. She loved intensely, in a way that will be felt for many years to come. Her legacy will be carried on by her daughter, Corinna Fabre, as well as her brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews and anyone who has ever picked up a book because of her encouragement.

Dena wanted her last gathering to be a celebration full of laughter, storytelling and love. We invite you to join us for a mass, followed by a celebration of life, at St. Vincent de Paul in Federal Way on Tuesday, February 20 at 11 a.m. In true Dena spirit, the more the merrier. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to First Book.

If you knew Dena it was impossible not to love her and you know her memory is best served in this simple way: grab a loved one, find a cozy spot on the couch, pour a cup of coffee and reread your favorite book.

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