Charles (Chuck) Timothy Hagel was born to Charles Dean Hagel and Betty Hagel (Dunn) on October 4, 1946 in North Platte, Nebraska. Chuck, also referred to as Tim when he was little, was the eldest of four boys in the Hagel family. Young Chuck, along with his brothers Thomas, Michael, and James, is remembered as being active and rambunctious. 

The Hagels moved often due to the economy and Charles Hagel seeking better jobs in lumberyards. They lived in towns across Nebraska including Ainsworth, Rushville, Scottsbluff, Terrytown, and York before finally settling in Columbus. So much moving led the family, especially the four boys, to be very close. After only a little over a year in Columbus their world came crashing down. Their father died of a brain aneurysm on December 25, 1962. The Hagel family was changed forever; the boys became men with 16-year-old Chuck as their leader.