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I am an unreconstructed New York Yankee, born in Manhattan, who has spent more of my adult life in Virginia than anywhere else.  When teaching American history classes at Northern Virginia Community College at Alexandria I had my students at the beginning of each course to write a brief biographical sketch of themselves as an entry into the study of the past, believing that when students begin to think that history has affected their lives and their families' lives, it will become more interesting to them.  I provided them with the following sample of my own:

I was born in New York City in 1936 and grew up in Pleasantville in Westchester County, a New York suburb much like Fairfax County, Virginia. The first Sage to settle in America, David, came from Wales to Middletown, Connecticut, in 1652 and died there in 1703.  His grave, somewhat run down when I last saw it, is in the Riverside Cemetery in Middletown. The name Sage is Scandinavian in origin (it means “historian” or “storyteller”) and it is believed that the first Sages arrived in England via the Norman conquest and settled in Wales. Those who remained in France became LeSage.  Over 90% of all the Sages in the United States are descended from David Sage, and many had Hebrew names.  (My middle name, Judson, means “Son of Judah.”) Isaac Sage married Sally Childs, daughter of Major Jonathan Childs and Deliverance Freeman. Major Childs probably fought in the American Revolution at Saratoga; the family may have been the one for whom Freeman's Farm, site of the battle in 1777, was named. Before the War of 1812 one Sage, a sailor, jumped over the side of a British man-o-war and swam ashore after being impressed into the Royal Navy.

Among my ancestors on my father's side are also a number of Germans named Hinkle (also spelled Henkel) from Cincinnati and a glass maker named Henry Clay Fry from Rochester, Pa. His ancestors were no doubt Whigs, which may explain part, but not all, of my political heritage. My grandfather, Henry Judson, for whom I am named, graduated from Yale in 1889 and MIT in 1892.  He worked for various electric corporations in Boston, Chicago, Baltimore and Pittsburgh. I have a sense that his life was very unstable.  He married Clara Belle Fry, daughter of Henry Clay Fry. In 1932, managing his own electric investment company in New York and struggling unsuccessfully to survive the Great Depression, my grandfather sent his ”last dollar” (which I still have) to his wife, along with a brief note that said, “You are the most beautiful woman in the world,” and jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge. His death, not surprisingly, was profoundly shocking to my grandmother; even her handwriting changed after he died. His body was recovered six months later and had to be identified by my father, a gruesome task which he accomplished mostly by being able to recognize the remnants of clothing. About my grandfather.

My father suffered from various illnesses as a boy and did not finish high school until he was 21.  His college class  at Yale was 1918, but they were graduated a year early in order to serve in World War I in France. He had four children by his first wife, one of whom, Donald, was a bombardier in World War II; he was killed in Asia in 1944.  My father's first wife was the granddaughter of Pennsylvania Senator Matthew Quay. My father also served in World War II in Washington, DC, being too old (50) for combat at his rank. He worked for the OSS during the war and stayed with the agency when it later became the CIA. He retired in 1962 and moved with his third wife, Rene, to Tucson, Arizona, where he died in 1965. He had two children with my mother.  My sister, a Lutheran minister, lives in Oklahoma. Rene Sage Carey, to whom I grew close after my mother's death, moved from Tucson to be near us here in Virginia and had two good years with our family. She died in November 2001 at age 96.

My mother's family is all Irish—Kearnys, Corcorans, Sheas, McGuigans and Coles. My grandfather, Timothy Hoctor, was a stonemason in Hoosick Falls, New York.  His grandparents, Timothy Hoctor and Elizabeth Baker, came from Ireland in the 1840s during the potato famine.  A cousin of mine, Harriet Hoctor Groeschel, has visited Ireland and tracked down many of our distant Hoctor relatives.  My other great grandfather, John Kearny, lived in upstate New York and fought in the Civil War in the 26th New York regiment.  I have a copy of his discharge, issued in Utica in 1863.  He is the only ancestor I know of who fought in the Civil War.

My mother graduated from Barnard College in New York in 1921, the first member of her family to go to college.  She was managing a book store in New York City when she met my father—while he was still married to his first wife.  She later worked for the Reader's Digest as a correspondent.  My parents were divorced after World War II, and my mother died from the side-effects of alcoholism in 1963 shortly after President Kennedy's assassination.  She was passionately interested in politics, and I believe the shock of his death hastened her demise.  My mother's family were staunch Democrats, my father's family all Republicans. My mother's sister was the dancer, Harriet Hoctor.

I finished high school in 1954, went off to college and did poorly.  I quit and joined the Marines to “find myself” and got an enlisted appointment to the Naval Academy and earned an engineering degree and a commission as a Marine lieutenant in 1962.  During my 24-year Marine Corps career I commanded artillery batteries in Vietnam and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, attended several schools, studied in Heidelberg, Germany (where my daughter was born), had five years of instructor duty and five years as an aide and speech-writer, and got my Master of Arts degree in History in 1974 at Clark University in Massachusetts while on the Navy ROTC staff at Holy Cross.  I also taught part time at Cameron Junior College in Oklahoma and for the University of Maryland in Japan.

After retiring from the Marine Corps in 1981 I attended the University of Maryland, got an MA in English, and taught English four years each at Maryland and GMU between 1982 and 1990.  I was hired as a history lecturer by NVCC in 1983, taught English and history for NVCC at Alexandria and Annandale and was hired as a full-time historian in 1990. I retired from classroom teaching in May 2004 and from online courses in October, 2013. I now write full time and have just published a novel, “The Irish Connection.”

My wife, a retired Fairfax County 6th-grade teacher, is the former Nancy Barnhart from Pittsburgh.  We have been married almost 50 years and have three children.  Our daughter, Jennifer, attended William and Mary and is married to an attorney and lives in Alexandria. She is a full-time mother of four. She had our first grandchild, Graham, in January 1996 and our second, a daughter, Meredith, in October 1997.  Her third, Lindsay, was born in November, 2003. A second son, Garrett, was born in 2006. Our two sons went to Virginia Tech. Jay and his wife, Stacia, and daughters, Sloane and Scarlett, live in Tampa where Jay is a financial consultant.  Scott is an e-commerce independent contractor who works out of Houston, Texas. He was married in 1997 and through him we inherited another grandson, Judson. Scott's wife, Helen, had another son in April, 2001, Aidan Lyle Sage. He is the first Sage grandson. Their daughter, Alexa, was born in April 2003.

A sequel to The Irish Connection will be published in early 2013. The title is  "Londonderry Affair."

Education summary:

B.S., Engineering, U.S. Naval Academy, 1962
Diplom, German History & Literature, University of Heidelberg, Germany, 1968
M.A., History, Clark University, 1974
M.A., English, University of Maryland, 1986
Master Certificate, Web Design, EEI Communications, Alexandria, VA, 2003
Certified Associate Webmaster, World Organization of Webmasters

Updated January 30, 2014
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