Patricia JoAnn Wagner almost rolled over the odometer on life but it wasn’t meant to be. Mom died the evening of Nov. 22, comfortably and in peace under the extraordinary care of Otterbein North Shore and Ashanti Hospice. She was 95. It is difficult to comprehend a lifespan that long. Mom witnessed the invention or adoption of the radio, the telephone, anti-biotics, the television, the atomic bomb, air conditioning, the microwave, the computer, the internet, the cell phone, and even the interstate highway system. She lived thru the Depression, the second World War, the Korean War, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, September 11, and finally Covid. Born on a farm without running water or electricity, she lived to introduce her sons to the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong, who grew up down the road. Through it all she remained interested and interesting.
Mom’s life fit nicely into three chapters. The first chapter of her life began with her parents Homer and Doris Tennant, an educator and a gentle, kind housewife. She and her sister Jean moved often through small farm towns near Lima as her father sought better positions during the Depression and World War. In 1946 she graduated from Buckland High School, first in her class. Mom had style and it showed even then. An entry level job at a Lima department store led to a position creating storefront displays while still in high school.
Chapter two began with leaving home to study teaching at Bowling Green State University where she met a young Bill Wagner, later to become Port Clinton’s Dr. V. Wm. Wagner. He pursued Mom to the brink of stalking until she agreed to elope. She helped him complete medical school, move to Port Clinton, establish a practice, and start a family. These were the years of swimming lessons at The Beach Club, swimming meets at the high school, band practice, Charity Balls, some painting, and running a household. In December 1963 JoAnn moved her family to Catawba Island into one of the first lakefront homes in Colony Club. We spent Christmas that year in the house she helped design and build. But this apparently also wasn’t meant to be.
After a thoroughly uncivilized divorce Mom began the third chapter of her life. She found herself back in Port Clinton in an apartment with three sons, a dog, a cat, a rabbit, and a duck. In the middle of her life, she began to rebuild that life. She returned to teaching and bought a house. And she met Bob Owen. They spent years together with great food, great music, great friends, great fun, and great conversations. But Mom never remarried. Toward the end of her life she explained to a caregiver that she never wanted to give up the last name of her boys.
Mom absolutely loved teaching and her students. Long after she could not remember if she had eaten breakfast, she remembered many of her students and their personalities. She left behind hundreds.
She also left behind three fiercely independent sons, Rick, Jeff, andPeter, six grandchildren, Nathan, Tenesha, Rikki, Kyle, Hayley, Joie, five great-grandchildren, Lilly, Avery, Lincoln, Paxton, Maya, and another, Benicio, on the way. Mom was proud of the diversity of her family. It reflected her worldview and is part of her legacy.
When our father Dr. Wagner died, I told my brother that I knew exactly what I wanted to write about him, but when Mom died it would be more difficult. Jeff, the middle, more quiet brother, said no, that’s easy…
“Mom is the reason we think we are special.” Mic drop. A graveside memorial service will be held at Riverview Cemetery, Port Clinton, during the family’s annual 4th of July celebration in 2024. Everyone’s homework assignment is to mark their calendar.
Contributions in JoAnn’s memory may be made to the Port Clinton Lighthouse Conservancy, P. O. Box 389, Port Clinton, OH 43452, Ida Rupp Public library, 310 Madison St., Port Clinton, OH 43452 or Danbury Local Schools Art or Literacy Programs, 9451 E. Harbor Rd. Marblehead, OH 43440. Online condolences may be shared with the family at www.neideckercrosserpriesman.com. Neidecker, Crosser & Priesman
Funeral Home & Cremation Service is in charge of the arrangements.