After close to 30 years and a career covering everything from traffic accidents to city council meetings and presidential visits, Gene Haagenson is retiring.
The veteran reporter is leaving his position at ABC30 to “spend more time with the grandkids,” he says.
“That’s the familiar refrain, but it’s actually true.”
Friday will be his last day with the station. It’s also “Gene Haagenson Day” in Fresno, according to an official proclamation made at last week’s City Council meeting.
Haagenson started his television career in 1979 and joined ABC30 as a weekend news anchor in 1991. Over the years, he served a variety of roles, including stints running the station’s Madera and Visalia bureaus. Most recently, he was a general assignment reporter with a focus on local government, though he also branched out into the national scene. He covered President Barack Obama’s visit to Yosemite in 2016 (a particularly memorable story given the location, he says) and the 2018 campaign of Congressman Devin Nunes.
But the stories he remembers most are the ones that made an impact.
Like the time he was tipped off to an elderly man with dementia being evicted from his home. Through his reporting, Haagenson helped the man get the care he needed.
“The guy would have been homeless on the street through no fault of his own,” Haagenson says.
So, while Haagenson will be spending time with his family in retirement – he has three grown children, five grandchildren and just celebrated 44 years of marriage to his wife Mary – he says he will also use the time to become more involved in making a difference in the community.
“I don’t plan to sit in the rocking chair,” he says.