During his high school years, Wallace Hagin Jr. developed a life-long love for music in the North Central High School band. After high school Wally attended the University of Minnesota, where he studied mortuary science to become a funeral director. Unfortunately, Spokane was not ready for a black embalmer and Wally had to move to Seattle to find work.
Music took Wally away and he traveled with the Lionel Hampton band for over a year before returning to Spokane to attend Gonzaga University. While at Gonzaga, Wally was introduced to a new love, aviation. He became the first African American in the state of Washington to receive a commercial pilot’s license.
December 7, 1941, changed life for all Americans with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Wally Hagin took his pilot’s license to enlist in the air corps. However, segregation kept him from serving as a pilot in the military. Disappointed, he served his country as best he could during World War II as a pilot in the Civil Air Patrol.
After the war, Wally became a professional photographer. For more than 50 years he captured the unique history of Spokane’s black community. So profound was his work, that over 14,000 of Wally’s photographs and negatives were added to the permanent collection of Spokane's Museum of Arts and Culture.
Wallace Hagin Jr. died in January 2006 at the age of 90.