Former first daughter and "Today" co-host Jenna Bush Hager, reveals that her father-in-law, John Hager, passed away after decades of battling with polio.
"Today with Hoda & Jenna" co-host Jenna Bush Hager recently announced that her father-in-law, John Hager, passed away on August 23. She penned a touching tribute in honor of her father-in-law on Instagram, which read:
"We lost my father-in-law, John Hager, Sunday morning. He was a giant of a man—although I never saw him stand."
Jenna Bush attends the CFDA Fashion Awards at the Brooklyn Museum of Art on June 03, 2019. I Photo: Getty Images.
Hager's caption explained that her late father-in-law lived most of his life with polio and in a wheelchair. The late John was paralyzed from the waist down and confined to a wheelchair for 45 years.
Despite his condition and the challenges that came with it, Hager described the man as a compassionate, curious, and kind person who lived his life to the fullest.
She concluded by sharing that her youngest daughter, Poppy, said her grandpa was in heaven, out of his wheelchair, and running free.
The mom of two was met with an influx of condolences. Her heartfelt tribute accompanied sweet photos of John being the doting grandpa that she described him as, surrounded by his grandkids and smiling with joy.
He completed more than 20 wheelchair marathons and became the first lieutenant governor ever to be in a wheelchair.
In 2016, she opened up about her father-in-law's condition on World Polio Day, October 24, in an exclusive interview with People.
Before the special day, the former first daughter launched a PSA in collaboration with UNICEF to help raise awareness of World Polio Day. The mom of two said:
"We're so close — we're so close to eradicating polio, which is a major disease that has affected my family. "
Jenna Bush added that she did not want any child anywhere in the world to face what her father-in-law and their family faced. The television co-host also revealed that her first encounter and insight into what polio was came with her relationship with Henry and his family.
Jenna said that her daughters were vaccinated at a very young age, but it was up to the more privileged individuals in the society to help the more vulnerable citizens of the world.
Some people did not have access to medication, and she could not begin to imagine what it would feel like to be a mom in some of these places, constantly terrified that her child could one day contract the viral disease.
Jenna thought her father-in-law was an unbelievable man. Full of life and energy, John never let anything get in his way. He completed more than 20 wheelchair marathons and became the first lieutenant governor ever to be in a wheelchair.
True to Jenna's praises, the late John proved how witty and sharp he was in a 2007 interview with Fox News' John Gibson. He described his then-future daughter-in-law as a person with a heart of gold.
Hager officially became his daughter-in-law on May 10, 2008, when she tied the knot with Henry. The family was blessed with such a wonderful man, and now that he has gone, they will surely miss him dearly.