Meridian Star

Local News

July 1, 2006

Profile: Lilibet Hagel

Wife of U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel reflects on growing up in Meridian

Meridian residents are accustomed to seeing U.S. senators in town from time to time — Thad Cochran, Trent Lott and ... Chuck Hagel?

Lilibet Hagel, the wife of U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, is a Meridianite.

The former Lilibet Ziller, she is the daughter of Glennie Ziller and the late John D. Ziller.

“I try to get to Meridian once or twice a year,” she said in a recent telephone interview.

She said her husband, who is often in the national news spotlight and is listed on virtually every poll of possible Republican nominees for the 2008 presidential election, enjoys Meridian, too.

“He relaxes more in Meridian than anywhere else,” she said.

Not too long ago, the Hagels were spotted in downtown Meridian strolling down the sidewalk along Front Street, peeking into shop windows and heading into Jean’s Restaurant.

“I love Jean’s,” Mrs. Hagel said, with an emphasis on “love.”

It was part of her growing up in Meridian, where she was born in 1954. She attended Poplar Springs Elementary School and Northwest Junior High. She attended a boarding school beginning in her sophomore year of high school.

She fondly recalls frequenting Snowball stands and going to shows at the Temple Theatre, playing tennis on the courts at Meridian High School and her years in the Girl Scouts.

“It was such a simple time. We left the house on our bikes and wouldn’t come back until night. It was a congenial place. Everyone’s mother looked out for everyone else.”

Lilibet and Chuck

In 1982 Lilibet met her future husband in Washington, D.C. She’d begun working as an intern for U.S. Rep. G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery in 1978 while she completed her master’s degree.

She intended to help out in Montgomery’s office for about six months and stayed for five years in the capacity of file clerk, then receptionist, then speech writer.

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