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Life Story / Obituary
With ways all his own, Doug Wagner was a remarkable man in the lives of those who knew and loved him. With his welcoming spirit, Doug’s easygoing and fun-loving nature was an example to all. He was a friend of many and a stranger to none as he could easily strike up a conversation with anyone. Doug’s family meant everything to him, and his service as a mentor and his heart for young people never waned. He was dedicated and devoted in all he said and did, and for these things and so much more, he will be deeply missed.
The year 1928 was an exciting time in our nation’s history as the Roaring Twenties redefined the culture of America. While the entertainment industry boomed, the discovery of Penicillin forever changed the field of medicine, and legendary baseball players set astounding records on the ball fields. Although the U.S. was on the brink of the Great Depression, a most welcome event in the lives of Hope and Edna (Fljozdal) Wagner was the March 22, 1928, birth of their little boy, Douglas.
Born in Highland Park, Michigan and raised in Ferndale, Doug grew up alongside his younger brother, Jack. His father worked as a “jobber” who sold auto accessories while his mother was a kindergarten teacher. While quite young, Doug’s father sadly passed away, leaving his mother to raise her two boys alone. Although Doug enjoyed a childhood typical of his generation, times were especially difficult for his family, among others, during the years of the Great Depression.
Doug attended the local schools and while in high school he played baseball, basketball, and football. In addition, he was also a member of the band before graduating from Lincoln High School with the Class of 1946. After high school, Doug volunteered and served in the U.S. Army for two years. Following his honorable discharge from the service, Doug went on to further his education, attending Albion College before graduating from Wayne State University with his degree in civil engineering. He would later attain his Masters of Public Administration from Western Michigan University at the age of 72.
It was during this time in 1958 when Doug met the woman who forever held his heart. Karen worked in the athletic department at a high school Doug happened to be scouting for a football team, and when he entered the office, Karen naturally struck up a conversation with him. Doug later asked Karen out on their first date, and in 1961, the couple was happily married in Ferndale. As newlyweds, they spent their first year together as husband and wife in Ferndale before making a move to Portage, Michigan.
Blessed with four wonderful children of their own, Kristine, Robert, Nancy and David added much to Doug and Karen’s lives. As a family they spent time up north often and priceless memories were enjoyed and shared during the holidays and other special occasions.
Doug was very supportive of local youth. For many years he was involved with Boy Scouts, Indian Guides and youth sports, especially when his children were a part of these activities. Yet even as his children grew, Doug found a way to continue his involvement with youth and combine his love for sports. For over 30 years he served as a referee for football and basketball in the MHSAA. He also coached little league, AYSO soccer and boys high school soccer, in addition to working as a civil engineer for the City of Kalamazoo for 30 years prior to retiring. Doug served on numerous professional and civic boards including being a lifetime member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and past president of the local chapter.
In his free time, Doug loved watching sports. He also enjoyed going out to eat, and he had quite a sweet tooth, especially for baked goods. His love for music included bluegrass and jazz, and he also spent time on his stamp collection. Always physically active, Doug kept active and in shape well into his later years, even riding his bicycle into his mid-seventies. Softball was a sport Doug enjoyed and he continued to play the game well into his eighties. Karen and Doug spent much of their retirement years traveling around Michigan to their favorite spots.
Doug was a very outgoing fellow and was well liked by many. He could talk with anyone, and he had a way of making others feel at ease. Serving as a coach and mentor to area youth made Doug’s heart feel glad, knowing he was attempting to make a difference in the lives of young people. Most important to Doug was the family he cherished and loved. He enjoyed being there for his family, and in many ways he lived for them. Gone yet never to be forgotten are the wonderful memories he leaves behind.
Doug Wagner, age 88 of Portage passed away on Friday, December 23, 2016 surrounded by family. Visit with his family and friends and view his life story film on Wednesday, December 28, 2016 from 4-7 PM at the Life Story Funeral Home, Portage; 5975 Lovers Lane (344-5600). A funeral service will be held on Thursday, December 29, 2016, 11:00 AM at the same location. Doug’s family includes his wife of 55 years, Karen; his children: Kristine (Eric) Thomas, Robert (Molly) Wagner, Nancy (Andrew) Hyet, David (Sarah) Wagner; six grandchildren: Jackson, Lauren, Leah, Leland, Nora and Ella; his sisters-in-law: Iola and Lois as well as several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; his brother, Jack and by his sister-in-law Helen. Please visit Doug’s memory page at www.lifestorynet.com where you can share a memory or photo and sign his memory book online. Memorial donations can be made to the St. Jude’s Research Hospital or to the Kalamazoo Gospel Mission.