It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Paul E. Sager of Green Bay. He died peacefully on August 25, 2022, under the compassionate and watchful care of the staff from Heartland/Promedica Hospice and The Courtyard at Bellevue and in the presence of his family. He is survived by his wife Dorothea, daughter Lauri (Doug), son Eric (Sheena) and sister Jean Wolf (Gale). Grandchildren Zachary, Ellise, Kal, Sam, and Ella will carry on in the spirit they learned from their grandfather.
Paul was born on February 9, 1937 in Kaukauna, WI, spending his formative years playing on the banks of the Fox River and developing a keen interest in the natural world through various fishing and hunting expeditions with his father. He graduated from Kaukauna High School in 1955 and earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of Michigan in 1959. Paul then went on to the University of Wisconsin Madison to study with Dr. Art Hasler in the Limnology Lab, graduating with a Master of Science in 1963, followed by a Ph.D. in 1967. It was during his time in Madison that he developed his interest in understanding the impact of human activity on aquatic ecosystems and the role that science can play in mitigating those impacts. In addition to the influence of Dr. Hasler and the other academic scholars he met and studied under while at Madison, it was the writings of Aldo Leopold and that author’s prescient philosophy of environmental stewardship that would continually guide Paul throughout his lifetime.
Following his graduate work and post-doc, Paul was invited to become one of the founding faculty members at the new four-year UW campus being built in Green Bay. In addition to reaching the rank of full professor, and being named the Barbara Hauxhurst Cofrin Professor of Natural Sciences in 1986, he would teach and take on many significant administrative roles during his thirty-three years at UW-Green Bay. He retired with emeritus status in the spring of 2000. In addition to serving as a mentor and devoted instructor for undergraduate and graduate students, Paul also developed a respected and significant research program documenting the sources of excess nutrients running into the Bay of Green Bay, Lake Michigan and the impacts those nutrients were having on the ecology of the system. Over the course of his career, he was very involved with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, serving as a member of the Science and Technical Advisory Committee for the Lower Green Bay and Fox River Remedial Action Plan and also as a member of the Natural Areas Preservation Council. During the final decade of his tenure at UW-Green Bay, Paul become the director of the University’s Cofrin Memorial Arboretum, where he fostered a holistic approach to the restoration and management of the natural areas of the university. This culminated with the acquisition of a 20-acre parcel adjacent to the original acreage, which was christened the Paul Sager Tract.
In addition to furthering his education, it was during his time in Madison that he met Dorothea (Thea) Binhammer of Watertown, WI. Rumor was it took some time for him to get the nerve up to ask her out for a first date, but we are all glad he did. It started the beginning of a relationship that would form the foundation of Paul’s entire life. After their wedding on August 24, 1963, their infamous honeymoon trip down the Flambeau River in an indestructible aluminum canoe would set the stage for many such adventures, both in the States and abroad. When Thea also accepted a faculty position at UW-Green Bay, they put down roots in the city, raising their children and making Green Bay their home.
While Paul was an excellent academic, it was his dedication to his family that defined him. Weekend adventures around Green Bay or Door County were a regular phenomenon in the Sager household, but Paul was most happy when exploring and hunting the forests or fishing the many lakes of Vilas County in northern Wisconsin. What began as annual trips to the shores of Deadpike Lake to his sister Jean and brother-in-law Gale’s cabin in Manitowish Waters, eventually led Paul and Thea to build their own getaway on the shores of Birch Lake. It was there they created the seminal gathering place, where Paul could demonstrate to his grandchildren the value of the natural community. Completing much of the finishing of the cabin and landscaping themselves, Paul and Thea also constructed several smaller buildings on the property, including a log cabin bunkhouse Paul built as a post-retirement project. While time at the cabin was always on the agenda, Paul and Thea also spent their retirement exploring the world and its many environments, with hiking trips to the Patagonia region, Europe, Canada, Mexico, a canoe trip in the north slope region of Alaska, and multiple trips to the Tetons and Western United States.
Paul will be greatly missed by all those who knew him but the spirit he endowed to friends and family will carry on forever. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to a scholarship established by the Sagers which supports student undergraduate research. Please go to
and choose Paul and Thea Sager Scholarship as your gift designation or contact UW-Green Bay Foundation at (920) 465-2074.
A visitation will take place at Atonement Lutheran Church, 2132 Deckner Ave, Green Bay, on Saturday, October 29, 2022, from 1:00 pm until the time of the service. Memorial service, Saturday, October 29, 2022, at the church at 2:00 pm.. Simply Cremation, Green Bay, (920) 431-0100, is assisting the family.
The family wishes to extend their sincere and deep gratitude to Traci and the team from Heartland/Promedica Hospice, as well as to all the staff at The Courtyard for their outstanding care and support during this difficult time.