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News Obituaries

Charles and Jeannine Wagner, killed in Sparks crash, were married 62 years

A memorial service for Charles Edward "Chub" Wagner and his wife, Jeannine Wagner, who both died Nov. 7 when their car was involved in a three-vehicle crash in Sparks, will be held at 11 a.m. Nov. 23 at Timonium United Methodist Church, 2300 Pot Spring Road.

The drivers of the two other cars involved in the collision were cited with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The Wagners had been married for 62 years and lived in Towson. Mr. Wagner was the co-founder of an industrial pump business. Mrs. Wagner was a soloist at local churches. They were both ardent lacrosse fans.

Mr. Wagner, 85, was born in Baltimore and raised on Bentalou Street, where he met his future wife, who also lived on the street. Friends recalled that he cut classes one day in order to hear a band play at the Hippodrome. He then took two more days off, prompting the principal to call his father. His father took him out of school and put him to work driving a delivery truck in downtown Baltimore.

"He was older-looking and drove without a license for two years until his father died and an older sister assumed responsibility in the family," said his son, Christopher Wagner of Abingdon. "She made him go back to school and enrolled him in Gwynns Falls Junior High. A teacher there became aware of his abilities and saw to it that he got into the Poly A course."

Before graduating from Polytechnic Institute in 1948 — at age 20 — he was captain of the school's football team and also wrestled. A 1947 Baltimore Sun article called him a "stalwart defender" in a game when his team defeated Forest Park. He was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame and later served in the Army.

He won a scholarship to the Johns Hopkins University, where he earned a bachelor's degree. He was a backup goalie for the school's lacrosse team.

Robert "Bob" Scott, a retired Johns Hopkins lacrosse coach and athletic director who played with Mr. Wagner, recalled a 1952 homecoming game between the Blue Jays and the University of Maryland.

"The coach put Chubby in when the game was tied, 10 to 10. He had eight saves in the fourth quarter. There were two overtime periods, and Maryland was controlling the ball. The tie remained until the referees called the game over. Without question, he was the hero of that homecoming game," he said.

In later years, the Wagners regularly returned to seats in the Homewood Field stands.

"Chubby and Jeannine hardly ever missed a lacrosse game after he graduated," Mr. Scott said. "He was in a class by himself for being kind and thoughtful."

Mr. Wagner worked briefly for Tate Engineering and broke off in 1957 to found the Cummins-Wagner Corp. with a partner, Charles Cummins. He sold industrial pumps, heat exchangers and compressors at the business on Eastern Avenue, which later moved to Linthicum and Annapolis Junction.

After retiring 15 years ago, he gave the business to his employees in an employee stock ownership plan. The firm has branches throughout the country.

His wife, who was 84, was born Jeannine Shirley Wigley in Baltimore. She was the daughter of Bartus Wigley, a Baltimore Sun advertising salesman, and Shirley Wigley, a homemaker. She was a 1947 graduate of Forest Park High.

She married Mr. Wagner during his senior year at Hopkins.

Mrs. Wagner worked briefly as a secretary. A soprano, she sang in the Rognel Heights and West Baltimore United Methodist choirs for many years.

While her son was a student at Immaculate Heart of Mary School, she befriended its choir director, Norman Sydnor, who then hired her to sing at weddings where he provided the music.

"The Methodist Church and singing were her priorities," said her son.

The couple were sports parents as well as fans. Mr. Wagner coached soccer and became a baseball umpire in the leagues where his son competed. When his son became interested in ice hockey — and played at the old Stadium Ice Rink — Mr. Wagner became concerned about safety in the sport. He also immersed himself in the amateur sport and became commissioner of the Baltimore Boys Hockey program.

"He insisted that all the players wear face masks and stopped all play in the league until they wore them," his son said. "Some of the parents were incensed, but he stood his ground."

The Wagners both played golf and traveled. Their son said they had a home at Surfside Beach, S.C.

Mrs. Wagner was a weekly duckpin bowler. They also were regular patrons at the Peppermill and Milton Inn restaurants in Baltimore County.

In addition to their son, survivors include three grandchildren. Mrs. Wagner is also survived by her brother, Richard Wigley of Towson.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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