Saturday, July 15, 2017

Paul E. Wagner

It's difficult to know what to say about Grandpa that would really encapsulate the wonderful man that he was. His obituary is well written and includes many of the larger details of his life:
Paul E. Wagner, 84, was born to Ernest E. Wagner and Cecelia (Pospisil) Wagner in Brewster, WA. In 1940, the family moved to an apple ranch near Twisp, WA in the Methow Valley. After a couple years at Beaver Creek, a one room school house, Paul went to Twisp City Schools, graduating in 1950. He was active in 4-H, high school basketball and Boy Scouts – earning his Eagle Scout rank.  
From an early age, Paul loved airplanes and would seek rides whenever he could. His ambition was to fly – especially jets. He attended Earlham College in Richmond, IN for a year, then transferred to Washington State University in Pullman, WA. He majored in Agricultural Engineering and enrolled in ROTC. He received his diploma and commission in 1955. He married his college sweetheart, Virginia Ann Kostenbader (a music major) on April 4, 1954.  
He entered the Air Force in October 1955, serving 27 years. His assignments included: Webb AFB in Big Springs, TX as a student pilot and instructor in T-33’s, Amarillo Tech Training Center; Misawa AFB in Misawa, Japan; England AFB, Alexandria, LA flying F-100s; Bien Hoa, Vietnam flying F-100s, Woodbridge Air Base in Woodbridge, England flying F-100s, Laughlin AFB, Del Rio, TX, as instructor in T-37s; Incirlik Air Base in Adana, Turkey as Deputy Director of Operations; Keesler Technical Training in Biloxi, MS with Airborne Command and Control Center; McClellan AFB in Sacramento, CA with the 2nd Air Delivery Group. He retired there in July 1982 as a Lt. Col. He was awarded many medals and awards; including the Distinguished Flying Cross, The Meritorious Service Medal with One Oak Leaf Cluster, The Air Medal with Nine Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Air Force Commendation Medal with Two Oak Leaf Clusters. Paul was a member of the Military Officers of America Association and Daedalian, a military pilots association. 
Paul and Virginia had four sons:  Glen Richard, Gary Lee, Todd Leslie and Tracy Jon. The family accompanied Paul on all assignments with the exception of Vietnam. Paul was a loving husband and father; a gentle man. He helped all his boys become Eagle Scouts, took them snow skiing and bought boats for water skiing. They all learned how to fix cars, do home repairs, carpentry, and lawn and garden care. Paul was also interested in music and sang in choirs and choruses, many of them directed by his wife. 
After retiring from the Air Force, he earned two masters degrees and worked as a Financial Planner for seven years. He also flew for a small charter company in Sacramento. In 1989, Paul and Virginia moved to Twisp, WA to his family home. In the Methow Valley, Paul became the official volunteer airport manager for the Twisp airport. During his tenure, the dirt runway was paved and received lights. He bought a Cessna 210, which he chartered, and flew (for fun) all around the country He was also very active in the Methow Valley United Methodist Church. 
Paul was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2005. In 2012, as his health declined, he and Virginia moved to Huntsville, AL to be near family. 
Paul is survived by his wife, Virginia ‘Gini’, his sons Glen (Cindy), Gary (Julie), Todd (Karen–Fiancee) and Tracy (Brenda); grandchildren, Carina, Michael, Kyle, Geneva, Morgan, Lauren, Chad, Casey, Jake and Carley; six great-grandchildren; brother, Howard (Rena), sisters-in-law, Dorothy Kostenbader (Betty), Betty Bourn (Ivan); brothers-in-law, Karl Kostenbader (Linda) and David Kostenbader (Roberta); and nieces and nephews. 

The family would like to thank all the caregivers from Home Instead, Hospice and Lisa for their care and compassion. Their support and love was much appreciated. It allowed Paul to be at home. 
A graveside service will be held at Beaver Creek Cemetery near Twisp, WA at a later date. 
Memorials may be sent to the Michael J. Fox Foundation or the Huntsville Parkinson’s Support Group.
My grandpa was not a loud or boisterous man, and so many of my memories with him are softer and quieter. Following him around while he tended to various tasks around their property in Twisp. Flying with him in his little yellow airplane. Playing games. During the six months that I lived with them in 2010/2011, I spent more day to day time with him than I ever had before. Sitting together. Reading together. Eating together. I think my favorite memory from that time was attending the little book club with my grandparents in downtown Twisp. the book club met at 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning and we'd often grab Cinnamon Twisps from the bakery downstairs to take up with us. Hearing both of my grandparents (and the other folk at those meetings) insights on the different philosophies of the books that we read was incredible interesting. It was an unusual window into the inner workings of their minds, and of a generation much much older than me.

I love my Grandpa Wagner. We will miss him.

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