John R. (Jack) Wagner, 86, passed away peacefully after a long illness on March 24, 2021, at his home in Hernando, Florida with his wife and his nurse holding his hands. Jack was born in La Crosse, Wisconsin, to Florence Sophia Wagner, her third son. Florence and his two brothers, Joe and Jim, preceded him in death, as did two nephews and a niece.
Growing up in La Crosse, WI, Jack’s first job was as a paper boy, and his last in La Crosse ended after 13 years at G. Heileman Brewing Company. He graduated from St. Joseph’s Elementary School, Aquinas High School, University of WI, La Crosse, and Marquette University. Following Jack’s graduation from law school, the Wagners moved to Lancaster, WI, where he served as Assistant District Attorney; then, District Attorney; and finally, Circuit Court Judge, Branch 1, for 20 years.
Jack served in the U.S. Navy aboard the minesweepers, The Pinnacle and The Stalwart.
As his home and office filled with books and magazines revealed, he loved reading and finding all kinds of information, which he loved to share. As long as his eyesight allowed, he tried to follow all the ways technology could help in that respect.
Jack enjoyed helping other people however he could; whether it was sharing his tools, giving advice, or helping with physical labor. When he was asked which of his cases he most enjoyed, he replied that the adoptions were his favorite. He had a special place in his heart for children.
An avid hunter and fisherman, he also shot trap, bowled, played cards, and golfed in Wisconsin. He said that some of his best memories were of those days he spent on the Mississippi River and in the woods.
The Wagners retired to Hernando, FL, where he lived for 22 years. Jack continued to enjoy golfing and bowling there. His friends appreciated his sharp mind and his sense of humor. He loved to regale them with his stories of growing up in his grandmother’s boarding house, losing his baby teeth playing football with his older brothers, hunting the coulees, fishing with the Ledmans and Ray Larson on the Mississippi, life in the Navy, other escapades he shared with friends, and his experiences as District Attorney and Judge.
Jack is survived by his wife of 58 years, Lois Von Arx Wagner, sister and brother-in-law, Jean and Don Puent, nieces and nephews, and many good friends and relatives in the Midwest and Florida who will greatly miss him.
Our gratitude goes out to those people who helped to make Jack’s final years possible: Dr. A. Liu and staff, G&R Pharmacy, long time caregivers Peggy Rocque, R.N., Aretha Dukes, Sharol Lambert, and the many caregivers from agencies. Also close neighbors, Mike and Pat Kuszik, and Tim and Mary Ann Gerhke.
Heinz Funeral Home in Inverness is in charge of the funeral arrangements. A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 11:00 AM on Tuesday, April 6th at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in Inverness, with a gathering beginning at 10:30 AM. Social distancing and masks are required. Interment in The Catholic Cemetery in La Crosse, WI, will occur later. Jack had requested that any memorials be given to Fr. Claudius Mganga for his Mary’s Will Project in Mwanza, Tanzania, Africa. His address: Our Lady of Fatima, 550 US Highway 41 S., Inverness, FL 34450. Heinz Funeral Home, www.heinzfh.com.