Emma C. Wagner, 90, World War II riveter

May 16, 2004

Emma C. Wagner, who worked as a riveter for Western Electric Co. in Baltimore during World War II, died May 9 at Westminster Health Center in Dover, Del., of lung cancer. She was 90.

The former Emma Willis was born on a vegetable farm in East Baltimore in 1914.

One of 14 children, she was taken out of school in the second grade to help her mother with farm chores and with her younger siblings. She never finished school, but she later learned to read and write with the help of her daughter.

"Every day when I came home from school, when I printed, she printed," said Doris Vrhovac of Dover. "And when I learned to read, I showed her how to read."

Mrs. Wagner lived most of her life in and near Dundalk, her daughter said.

In 1932, she married Maurice Wagner, a soldier stationed at Fort Holabird. They had been married nearly 47 years when he died in 1979.

During World War II, Mrs. Wagner worked the 3 p.m.-to-11 p.m. shift as a riveter for Western Electric. When the war was over, she went on to work at a sewing factory in Highlandtown for seven or eight years, her daughter said.

Mrs. Wagner then worked on an assembly line for Joseph E. Seagram & Sons Distillery in Dundalk until she retired after 25 years.

In 1999, Mrs. Wagner moved to Delaware. She remained active and independent and looked much younger than her years, her daughter said.

"We went to the beauty shop every Saturday morning," Mrs. Vrhovac said, "and then on to breakfast."

Mrs. Wagner enjoyed bingo and crocheting.

Services were held Thursday.

In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Wagner is survived by a son, Frank E. Wagner Sr. of Baltimore; seven grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; and two great-great-grandchildren.

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