Ellen F. Wagner, 45, served on former Governor Hughes' staff

November 26, 1995|By Dan Morse | Dan Morse,SUN STAFF

Ellen Fraites Wagner, who led efforts to protect the Chesapeake Bay, died of pulmonary fibrosis Thursday at Memorial Hospital in Easton. She was 45.

While serving as then-Maryland Gov. Harry R. Hughes' executive assistant for environmental affairs in the mid-1980s, Mrs. Wagner pushed through legislation that banned phosphates and led to the Chesapeake Bay Trust and the tri-state agreement among Maryland, Delaware and Virginia to protect the bay.

In recent years, Mrs. Wagner lived on the Eastern Shore where she could see the bay from windows on three sides of her home.

"She was a rather extraordinary person, really," Mr. Hughes said yesterday, crediting Mrs. Wagner's concern for the bay and her political savvy for pushing the bay initiatives through the General Assembly.

Before joining Mr. Hughes' staff, Mrs. Wagner served as a lobbyist for the state in Washington, D.C., from 1976 to 1984.

Born and raised in Cranford, N.J., she was active in theater in high school and went on to earn a history degree from Goucher College in Towson.

After working for Mr. Hughes' staff, Mrs. Wagner earned a master's degree in public administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She then moved to the Eastern Shore to be closer to the bay and to continue her work for the environment.

The bay "became her life, and it's just been neat to share it with her," said her sister, Lisa Fraites Dworkin.

Mrs. Wagner is survived by her husband, Robert; her father Joseph L. Fraites of Sea Girt, N.J.; her brothers, Joseph L. Fraites, of Weston, Conn., and Christopher G. Fraites of Watchung, N.J.; her sister, of Hoboken, N.J.; and her stepchildren, Bobby, Andrew and Ashley Wagner.

A memorial service is planned for noon tomorrow at the Easton Presbyterian Church, 617 N. Washington St., Easton. A service also is planned for 1 p.m. Thursday at the First Presbyterian Church in Cranford, N.J.

Donations may be sent to the Chesapeake Bay Trust, 60 West St., Suite 200A, Annapolis 21401.

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