John Calvin Wagner

April 04, 1931 ‒ July 28, 2015

Delaware, Ohio

John Calvin Wagner

April 4, 1931 – July 28, 2015

John was born to Ethel (Weaver) and Walter Wagner and raised in Ardmore, Pennsylvania.  He contracted polio at the age of 14 on VJ Day in 1945, suffering significant, permanent paralysis.  He went on to study philosophy at Haverford College and the Sorbonne, theology at Yale Divinity School and Drew Theological Seminary, and completed his Ph.D. in Education at Ohio State University.

As a young pastor, he asked to be appointed to “a small church in a small town where I could learn to be a minister.”  He served United Methodist congregations in Green Camp and Richwood, Ohio, on the conference staff, and had a long career as an administrator and professor at United Theological Seminary.  In retirement, he continued teaching at the Church of the Messiah in Westerville and the Methodist Theological School in Ohio.

John was a wise, brave and compassionate man who took genuine risks for social justice.  Against the wishes of his bishop and superintendent, he protested the segregation of churches in Mississippi in 1963, and the Columbus Athletic Club.   He demonstrated against the wars in Vietnam, Nicaragua and Iraq and was an advocate for the full inclusion of all persons and perspectives in the UMC.   Deeply Christian, he cherished his relationships with people of all faiths.  He was intuitively kind.

Polio kept taking its toll on his muscles, his mobility, and finally, his breathing, but he never wavered in using his voice for love, justice, wry wit and endless puns.  John leaves behind Miriam, his wife of 62 Years, who made his long life and ministry possible;   children, John (JoAnn), Patricia, and David (Judi); grandchildren, Benjamin, William, Rose, Anna, Nicole and Leah; great-grandchildren, Victoria and Lucas; many beloved nieces and nephews, and a host of friends. He was preceded in death by his sister, Elizabeth.

Contributions can be made in John’s memory to Kairos-Palestine (checks made out to First UMC Middletown) or to the Maynard Avenue UMC Accessibility Fund.  Kairos-Palestine was created by official representatives of churches in Palestine to advocate for just solutions to conflict through non-violence.

Friday, August 14 , 2015 – Visitation from 6-8 p.m. The Summit Room of Willowbrook at Delaware Run, 100 Delaware Crossing, West, Delaware, Ohio

Saturday, August 15, 2015 – Visitation from 12:30 to 2 p.m at William Street United Methodist Church, 28 W. William Street, Delaware, Ohio, where a Celebration of Life Service will be held at 2:00 p.m., with the Rev. Julie Carmean, officiating. Arrangements have been entrusted to the Snyder-Rodman Funeral Center in Delaware.

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