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May 31, 2020

5/18/2020 11:39:00 AM
Wagner, Gary Nelson

Gary Nelson Wagner, 76, passed away in his sleep on Sunday, May 10, 2020. Gary was born on June 19, 1943 to Clyde and Marjorie Nelson Wagner at St. Joseph Hospital in Dodgeville, Wisconsin. He attended the Livingston Grade and High School and, in 1961, was a member of the first class to graduate from the Iowa-Grant High School.
Gary was a husband, father, grandpa, friend, and farmer who loved the Lord. His consistent dedication to his faith was seen through his involvement in multiple congregations, teaching Sunday school, going on mission trips, praying and reading the Bible daily. His faith enabled him to overcome any difficulties or life challenges.
Gary attended UW-Madison where he received both a B.S. and a M.S. in Dairy Science. While helping to manage the Wagner Land & Cattle family business, they farmed over 2,000 acres and raised 100 beef cows along with milking 100 registered Holstein cows as Great Earth Holsteins. Through the years, the Wagner family exhibited many prize-winning Holsteins with Gary as the herdsman. These shows included the Iowa County Fair, the Wisconsin State Fair, and the various district and state championship shows within the Wisconsin Holstein Association.
After the dispersal of the family farm in 1983, Gary worked for various companies that helped farmers and other ag customers analyze financial investments looking at inputs and outputs. His work life took his family to Geneseo, IL; Eau Claire, WI; Madison, WI; and Newbury Park, CA.
Gary married Mary Jo Christianson in 1966 and they had three children, Christian, Annette and Melissa. In August of 2008, Gary married Judith Abraham, a former high school classmate. They lived between Madison and Newbury Park, CA until 2017 when they permanently moved to California. Gary and Judi enjoyed traveling the countryside and visited Ireland, Italy, Alaska, along with many California wineries.
Gary had an infectious smile that made it easy to make friends where ever he went. Throughout his life, he was always willing to lend a hand to the family's home building projects. We have many fond memories of him swinging a hammer, going on long Sunday drives, taking the grandkids to county fairs, volunteering with WALSAA, or getting excited to watch the local demolition derby or stockcar racing. Gary loved sports, especially those that involved the Wisconsin Badgers or Green Bay Packers.
Gary is survived by his wife Judith Abraham of Newbury Park, CA and his 3 children: Christian (Heather) Wagner of Eau Claire, WI; Annette (John) McClelland of Delano, MN; Melissa (Eric) Thering of St. Michael, MN; his 7 grandchildren: Serena and Destyn Wagner, Stephanie and Natalie McClelland, Jackson, Joslyn, and Mia Thering; his 1 great granddaughter Isla Rose Wagner; his 3 step-children: Stephanie (Tom) Theaker of San Jose, CA; Jennifer Wissusik of Newbury Park CA; Jason (Andrea) Ruble of Newbury Park, CA; 11 step-grandchildren and 5 step-great grandchildren.
He is further survived by 2 brothers, David (Evie) Wagner and Jim Wagner, and 5 sisters, Cheryl (John) Peterson, Janel (Bob) Lapanja, Mary Jo Wagner, Deb (Bruce) Ivey, and Judy (Harry) Reddy; his former spouse Mary Jo Wagner, as well as numerous nieces, nephews, friends and neighbors. He was preceded in death by his parents and his sister-in-law, Maxine Wagner.
The family would like to thank the remarkable staff at Silverado Memory Care facility for their loving care and support of Gary.
A private family service was held on Thursday, May 14th. Memorials can be directed to the Parkinson's Foundation in honor of Gary.

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