Obituary of John Paul Wagner
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In loving memory of John Paul Wagner (October 5th, 1944 – December 3rd, 2022)
On Saturday, December 3rd, 2022, John Paul Wagner, devoted husband and loving father, passed away at age seventy-eight. He valiantly fought off a perfect storm of health complications for nearly a year until God called John home. John was born on October 5th, 1944 in Norwich, NY, the youngest child of Hans Baptiste and Martha Bertha (Zabel) Wagner. He married his beautiful, beloved wife, Donna, in March of 1965. John and Donna spent the entirety of their married life in Sidney, NY where they raised their four children. John was a blue-collar employee who worked tirelessly to provide for his family and to enable his wife to stay home. He was employed for ten years at Borden's in Bainbridge and for well over thirty years at Amphenol Aerospace in Sidney before retiring in 2010. To those closest to him, John will always be remembered as an avid outdoorsman and nature enthusiast, a talented athlete, a gifted conversationalist, a food connoisseur and most notably, a dedicated family man who was incredibly proud of where he came from.
As a young man, John loved fishing with his father. He also discovered hunting as a teenager, both pastimes that he later shared with his own children. John enjoyed hunting small game as well as white tailed deer, and preferred bow-hunting to gun hunting, as he liked the added challenge of using a recurve bow as well as the peacefulness of the woods during that time of year. John loved getting out his Old Town canoe or the grungy black inner-tubes and floating down the Susquehanna River with his family on a hot summer day. He cultivated a fruit tree orchard and yard full of unique plantings that were arguably the loveliest and best kept in town. John and his wife, Donna, along with their children, planted various vegetable gardens each spring and summer that helped to keep the freezer, cold cellar, and pantry full most of the year. During all seasons, John liked to take the family on "woods walks," known to most as hikes. He spent countless hours traipsing around various forests in the area but most often when it came to the family walks, the choice location was Pine Hill between Masonville and Sidney.
John was a natural athlete but never rested on that ability, as he understood the value of perseverance and dedication. As a young man, he quickly excelled in football and baseball. In 2017, John was inducted into the Sidney Central School Sports Hall of Fame as a member of a Legacy Football team which completed an undefeated season in 1960. However, due to being one of the youngest members of the team as a sophomore, he humbly expressed that he did not believe he deserved the honor. John also developed a love of golf. After years of perfecting his game, he was crowned Sidney Golf and Country Club Champion four times. In 1980, John competed in and won the title of Delaware County Champion, donning the coveted green jacket. On a more casual endeavor, he played on a local men's softball league, primarily patrolling right field and playing third base on occasion. A switch-hitter, he was remembered as being one of the fastest guys on the team despite being nearly a decade older than most of his teammates. John loved watching golf as well as playing the sport and shared this affinity with his wife, Donna and he loved the Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Rams. Another little known fact about John would be his adoration for the sport of professional boxing. He believed with all his heart that Sugar Ray Robinson was, hands down, the greatest boxer of all time. John was even able to visit the Boxing Hall of Fame up in Canastota, NY a few years back.
John loved a good conversation. He was able to talk about most anything with anyone who would listen and made an art out of making complete strangers comfortable. John was notorious for inviting door-to-door solicitors into his home for coffee or tea and whatever pastry or pie might be available. Unlike many men who will not admit they are lost, he seemed to enjoy pulling the car over and asking locals for directions which would lead to full-blown chit-chats often ending in the discovery of the best local lunch spot or other hidden gem in town. John thrived on listening to, and learning from others. He was the first to tell anyone that he was ill-informed when it came to most topics, yet he seemed to have one of the broadest knowledge bases of anyone you might know. This comes back to John's talent as a listener. He was constantly learning, remembering, and filing information away in that complex mind of his.
Food was unquestionably, a major part of John's life. He liked reading about food in his cherished cookbooks. John could also be found in his favorite living room chair or his post at the kitchen table, thumbing through his piles of cooking magazines. He even had his own subscription to Bon Appetite, likely because that was one of his mother's favorites. John truly loved cooking and was forever tinkering in the kitchen, leaving the ham dinners and pot roasts to his wife, but always up for creating his own delicious concoctions or "mish-mosh" meals as he liked to call them. He was open minded when it came to food and chronically wished that everyone else shared this gift, as he often got out his assortment of German wurst and cheeses or other "delicacies," and attempted to get his company to sample each one. To this day most of us wonder if he truly enjoyed eating tripe, pickled pig's feet, and a few other questionable table treats, or if he just got a kick out of his guests' reaction to the offerings. Every family dinner began with John stating, "Can I ask just one thing? Can everyone enjoy their meal and eat slowly please?" Watching the food network and other cooking channels was something that John occupied much of his time with in his later years. There's not another human being who ever pulled off a better Julia Child impersonation, that's a certainty.
All things aside, what makes John most memorable to those who knew him, would be his unwavering dedication to his family. As a young man, he spent a great deal of time with his parents and sisters up in Masonville, NY on his aunt and uncle's farm. He often hitch-hiked there from Sidney if he didn't have a ride, just to help out with chores or maybe just for a visit. John had a way of making everyday things seem monumentally special. He taught his four children as well as his many grandchildren to treasure the simple pleasures in life and to relish in nature's beauty. John had immense pride in his Wagner family heritage, especially his German roots and he loved to tell his children about their ancestry. He would sift through boxes of old black and white photos to make sure names, dates, and places were on the backs of each so that history was not lost. He loved his wife, Donna, unconditionally and eternally. John was incredibly proud of his four children and made sure to express that to them, often. He was a man who was not afraid to apologize for his mistakes, and would admit that he made plenty, yet he was equally as likely to tell you about his greatest triumphs, adventures, and accomplishments in life, and there were many.
John was predeceased by his father and mother, his two sisters, Joan Cialello and Virginia Compton, as well as his loyal coonhound, Amos. He is survived by his wife, Donna Green Wagner (Sidney) and four children: Veronica (and David) Bailey of Sidney, John R. (and Therese) Wagner of Birdsboro, PA, Karen Wagner of Endicott, and Elizabeth (and Brenten) Wagner-Bryan of South Kortright. He is also survived by his sister, Martha Weis of DePere, WI, seven grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, and dozens of nieces, nephews, and cousins.
There will be a celebration of life for John at Gateway Alliance Church in Sidney, NY on Saturday, January 7th, 2023 at 3pm. In lieu of flowers, the family asks those wishing to honor John to make a donation to CARE, in his memory, https://www.care.org/hunger/.