John William Wagner was born in Spokane on April 20, 1921. He grew up on his family farm at Post Falls, Idaho, where he helped with the farming and chores until he was drafted into the Army in 1942. He was stationed in Italy, Germany, Africa and France, which was his favorite country because of the wonderful vineyards.
After the war, John owned a small restaurant in Hillyard, where he met Lillian Wageman when she had car trouble and needed to use his phone. They married and had three sons, Tom, Tony and Randy.
John worked at Kettle Falls at the dam for Washington Water Power until it closed. He moved to Colville and started his own excavation business until 1965, when he moved to Bremerton, Wash., so his wife, Lillian, could finish her nursing degree.
From Bremerton, they moved to Deer Park, where John started Wagner and Sons Excavating Services. He worked for both power companies and had many customers around the area until he sold his business to his son Tony so he could retire and enjoy his grandchildren.
John was a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, where he was the head elder for many years and kept the churchyard wll groomed.
One of his favorite pastimes was going to coffee with the gold old boys in the back room of Wolfe’s Hardware, where they would decide how to save Deer Park from disaster. They fixed more potholes and town problems than the city boys did in that back room.
They enjoyed their coffee time until the business was sold and they moved to Levi’s Minit Market.
John’s other passion was reading. He loved all kinds of literature and spent hours reading books of all kinds that he would trade with his friends and brothers-in –law.
As his kids were growing up, he taught them patience and how to figure out life’s little problems on their own.
One time, the boys were mowing the lawn with the old push mower and it quit working in front of the window where he watched them struggle with it and couldn’t get it to start. He came out to help and did all the same things until he picked it up and threw it on the ground and then proceeded to kick it until he hurt his foot. He then stomped off speaking the foreign language he was learning.
The boys stood their trying to hide their snickers. The next thing they knew they heard the backhoe fire up and saw it come around the corner. He proceeded to pound the lawnmower with the bucket. They saw a smile on his face as he scooped the lawnmower up and headed to the back to dump it in the garage.
The lesson learned was don’t mow the lawn unless you have a backhoe around to fix the lawnmower.
John loved football. It was better than Christmas for him. The kids knew better than to make any noise or bother him when he was watching football. It was a good thing Lillian was around to intervene if they did because she could take him down if needed. If he had his way, the house would be under quarantine during the football season and nobody would be allowed in the house during a game.
John loved his kids and would help them other whenever they needed it, like the time they ran out of gas and they called him for help. He drove out and dropped off the gas can told them they had enough time to walk into town to buy gas before the gas station closed. He then drove off. The boys practiced a little of his foreign language as he drove off and they started walking.
Tony loved baseball growing up and John spent a lot of time teaching him to pitch a straight ball. One day Tony walked in the back slider door, which was standing open so he closed it behind them.
John was working on the toaster, practicing his foreign language and it did not look good. Next thing Tony knew he was winding up like he practicing baseball and pitched the toaster at the now closed slider, where it luckily hit the steel bar instead of going out the door he thought was open.
All kidding aside, John loved his family and had many friends throughout his long life. He enjoyed visiting with them over the years. He will be greatly missed by all his friends and family.
John passed away in Holy Family Hospital on Thursday night, May 9, 2013.
He is survived by his son, Tony Wagner; two granddaughters, Desire Baker and Nichole Bush; two grandsons, Travis and Cody Wagner; and four great-grandchildren, Cameron and Levi Baker and Christopher and Taylor Busch.
A funeral service will be on Friday, May 17 at 10 a.m. at the Deer Park Seventh Seventh-day Adventist Church on S.809 Colville Ave. Interment services with military honors will follow for family-only.
Lauer Funeral Home, Deer Park, will be in charge of arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, memorials can be given in John’s name to the Deer Park Seventh-day Adventist Church.