Joseph Carl Wagner, 82, printer, procurement officer, war veteran

March 23, 2004|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Joseph Carl Wagner, a retired procurement officer and World War II veteran, died at Sinai Hospital Wednesday of injuries suffered that day in an automobile accident near his home. The North Homeland resident was 82.

Mr. Wagner was born and raised in West Baltimore. He studied printing before enlisting in the Marine Corps in 1942.

He participated in some of the bloodiest fighting of World War II, in landings at Okinawa, Bougainville, Guadalcanal and Guam.

After the war, he went to work as a printer at Schneidereith & Sons in the 200 block of S. Sharp St. For 20 years, until retiring in 1980, he was a procurement officer for the U.S. Government Printing Office in Washington.

In his retirement, Mr. Wagner volunteered at the former Loch Raven veterans hospital in Northeast Baltimore and was a pastoral visitor at Union Memorial Hospital.

For the last 11 years, Mr. Wagner was a member of the College of Notre Dame's Renaissance Institute, a continuing education program for people ages 50 and older.

"It changed his whole life. He took up painting, acting and playing golf. He became an all-around person," said Isaac B. Rehert, a retired Sun features reporter who is also a member of the institute.

"He enjoyed acting, and I told him when people asked him what he did, tell them you're an actor. `I like that,' he'd say. He lived a creative life," Mr. Rehert said.

Darryl W. Croxton, director of the Renaissance Players, was his acting instructor and drama coach.

"At his death, he was preparing for the role of Mel in Neil Simon's Prisoner of Second Avenue, and was doing a fabulous job. He was extraordinary," Mr. Croxton said.

"He had such a presence, mind, courage and spirit. He had a great attitude about life. He wanted to continue to grow and to develop his mind. He was not content to be a person of so-called old age. He saw the beauty of life and professed that," Mr. Croxton said. "He was a gentleman to his fingertips and would come to class everyday with a big smile on his face. He was like an angel."

Mr. Wagner also enjoyed playing golf at the Longview and Mount Pleasant courses.

"He also liked taking bike trips in Europe, Canada and Bermuda," said his wife of 11 years, the former Elizabeth Cecil, adding that he would also put his bike in the back of their car to go riding the Northern Central Trail.

He was a communicant and Eucharistic minister at St. Mary of the Assumption Roman Catholic Church in Govans, where a funeral Mass was offered Saturday. He also had been head of the church's health ministry for many years and served on other committees.

Mr. Wagner also is survived by a son, William J. Wagner of Ridgefield, Conn.; two daughters, Patricia W. Hemler of La Plata and Joanne M. Wagner of Arlington, Va.; two brothers, Aloysius Wagner and Paul Wagner, both of Baltimore; a sister, Margaret W. Cramer of Baltimore; two stepsons, Mitchell Crook of Timonium and Stuart Crook of Monkton; five stepdaughters, Elizabeth Lesser of Baltimore, Catherine Ullman of Jamaica, Vt., Tressa Ridge of Champaign, Ill., Amanda Zinn of Baltimore and Loretta Hutzell of Ellicott City; 15 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

His wife of 44 years, the former Mary Morris, died in 1991.

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