John W. Wagner, 90, of Grangeville, Idaho, died peacefully Dec. 23, 2017, in his home after a battle with pneumonia. John was born in Cottonwood, Idaho, to Al J. and Gertrude (Goeckner) Wagner.
After graduating from Grangeville High School in 1945, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He was honorably discharged in Aug. 1946. He then entered the University of Idaho and became a member of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity.
John married his high school sweetheart and the love of his life, Madelyn Sanberg, on Aug. 11, 1948. After graduation from the University of Idaho in 1950, he and Madelyn came to Grangeville to live, where he worked for his father at the Blue Fox Theater. In early 1957, he left the theater to join his Uncle Joe Wagner in his automobile dealership. Later, he became sole owner of the business.
John was president of the Grangeville Jaycees, and president of Grangeville Chamber of Commerce. He served eight years on the Grangeville City Council. He was president of the North Idaho Chamber of Commerce and President of the University of Idaho Vandal Boosters. He was also a member of the American Legion Post #37, Knights of Columbus Counsel (#4058) and the Elks Lodge #1825.
Travel was John and Madelyn’s passion, and they made eight ocean cruises over the course of their 57- year marriage, the most memorable were two to the Mediterranean. There were trips to England, Europe and Southeast Asia. He was an avid fisherman and loved to play golf. His most enjoyable trips, however, were with his family, friends, and neighbors going camping and fishing throughout Idaho, Oregon, and Montana. Our family enjoyed vacations with friends and neighbors all through the glacier parks and into Canada. In their later years, John and Madelyn made many road trips in their RV throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. For many years, they enjoyed winters as snowbirds in Arizona, Nevada and southern California and traveled with their greatest RV companions, Jim and Tina Sanberg.
John is survived by his daughter, Margaret Wagner, of Beaverton, Ore.; four grandchildren: Jason Vanderwall, of Missoula, Mont.; Mark (Jessica) Vanderwall, of Grangeville; Jill Wagner, of Boise, Idaho; and Samuel Wagner Forster, of Beaverton, Ore., and his father, Richard “Duke” Forster, a close friend. Also remaining are six great-grandchildren: Jacob, Bailey, and Addisyn Vanderwall; and Beniah, Caleb, and Joel Vanderwall. He is also survived by his sister-in-law, Eleanor (Poofy), married to Al J (Port) Wagner. He also had several nieces and nephews: Chris Wagner, Jeff Wagner, Lisa Jones, Jody Mallane, Rachel Kincheloe, Vicki Roys, and Lori Becker.
Many thanks and appreciation go to John’s caregivers, Lorna Hitchcock, Sonya Pollan, and Rosalie Smith. Your care went far beyond anyone’s expectations for John in the past five years, as he battled a feeding tube, never eating again. Your patience, kindness, and compassion played a big role for John. He learned much from all of you!
He was preceded in death by his wife, Madelyn, who died Nov. 26, 2006; his daughter, Mary Vanderwall; his son, James Wagner; son-in-law, Terry Vanderwall; his brother, Al (Port) J. Wagner, Jr.; a nephew, Mike Sanberg, and recently his niece, Jennifer Wagner.
Visitation will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2017, from 4-7 p.m. at the Blackmer Funeral Home in Grangeville. A rosary will be held Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017, at 10:30 a.m. followed by Mass of Christian Burial at 11 a.m. at Sts. Peter & Paul Parish. Graveside services will be held immediately after Mass, followed by a reception at the Sts. Peter and Paul School. Arrangements are under the direction of Blackmer Funeral Home of Grangeville. Send condolences to the family to Blackmerfuneralhome.com.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Madelyn Sanberg Wagner Music Scholarship, which is given to a senior from the Mountain View School District #244 (usually a Grangeville High School recipient). The address is 714 Jefferson, Grangeville, ID 83530.
Thank you to all the friends and family who have reached out during this difficult time for our family. Caregivers are definitely a definition for friends and can be considered family. We are in much appreciation of your love and thoughtfulness. What a wonderful community we have. Thank you!
Condolences are being received online.