Maria Luisa Hagen’s family said she lived the American dream by working hard and becoming a successful businesswoman.
Born in Spain in 1935, the year before the Spanish Civil began, Hagen moved to France in 1956 where she met her future husband, Elmer Hagen, an American airman.
“She always dreamed about coming to the United States,” said her daughter, Melissa Hagen, 57.
That dream was realized when the family moved to Kansas, then South Carolina, then to Middletown. She opened Michele’s Restaurant, named after her oldest daughter, in 1976 inside the City Centre Mall.
Hagen died Aug. 12. She was 87.
While in South Carolina, Hagen broke her back and doctors said she would never walk again. But she continued rehabilitation and walked again, though with a limp.
“It was a miracle,” her daughter said during a phone call from Las Vegas where she was waiting to board an airplane to Ohio.
Hagen said her mother was “always positive even in sad times” and she never quit, a trait she passed to her three children.
As a restaurant owner, she was well-respected and known in the Middletown community, including by police officers.
“When I skipped school, she found out about it,” Hagen said. “She was a fiercely loving and tough mother.”
Hagen loved stray animals and when she couldn’t find them a good home, she took them in and cared for them, her daughter said. She also enjoyed vacationing to different countries in Europe with Elmer, around the U.S. and Mexico and back to Spain on many occasions.
She is survived by her children, Michele (John) Collins, Marc Hagen and Melissa Hagen and Garrett Thompson and grandchildren Matthew Hagen, Erica Hagen, Blake Collins, Megan Thompson, Kara Thompson, Michael Thompson, and four great-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her husband and partner Louis Pickard.
Services were held last week at Breitenbach Anderson Funeral Home in Middletown. She was buried at Butler County Memorial Park.