John E. Wagner

PARSONSFIELD – John Edgar Wagner, 90, passed away on Nov. 12, 2020 in Gorham.

Over the past year John demonstrated his inimitable mix of logic, strategy and grit no matter whether facing his own health issues, addressing the political clime, or adapting to living in our pandemic-altered world. He was sustained during these tough times by family and friends from far and wide who made sure he knew he was loved by their frequent phone calls, email messages, cards and window visits.

John was dedicated to his wife, Mary, whom he lovingly tended to until her death in September of 2019. He and Mary enriched all who entered their circle with their lively quick minds and their joie de vivre. They shared a wicked sense of humor, love of adventure and, of course, love of good food and good company. They thrived on learning new things and meeting new people and over time acquired many dear, dear friends all over the world.

John was born in Akron, Ohio on Jan. 6, 1930, the son of Francis and Neva Wagner. He lived most of his childhood and teen years in Falls Church, Va., which is where he first met the lovely Mary Barr. John graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy on June 4, 1954 and he and Mary were wed the very next day. John’s military career was a source of pride and adventure – he was a wonderful storyteller and enjoyed sharing highlights of a seaman’s life. After 26 years of service, John retired as a Navy Supply Corps Commander.

Those Navy years shaped the lives of the Wagner family. They and their five children were stationed in Maine, Georgia, Guam, Virginia, Rhode Island, New York City and spent four years in Japan where they developed a deep affinity for the people, culture, and cuisine of the country.

After John retired from the Navy, he embarked on a second career managing large Taubman shopping malls in Connecticut and Michigan. When the need for adventure struck again, he and Mary moved to Hong Kong where he oversaw the development and ongoing management of the City Plaza shopping and entertainment center, which included an ‘Ice Palace’. John developed a passion and expertise for skating rink development and started his own consulting business to guide the design and establishment of skating rinks in southeast Asia.

Throughout their adventures, Maine was home base for John, Mary and their kids. John first fell in love with the Maine woods when Mary brought him to her parents’ Limerick home in the 1950s and the family spent most summers there. In the mid-’90s, John and Mary retired to Maine and took great pleasure in time spent with family, neighbors, bridge partners, golf and bowling buddies, and their supper club. John cared very much about his community and served on boards for Parsonsfield planning and for the Willowbrook Museum Village.

Those who knew John know that he had a strong opinion about most any topic and was more than willing to share his viewpoint – but that his tough outer shell covered a thoughtful and caring inner core. This spirit was shown in his gentleness toward creatures of nature and by how committed he was to friends and family – he was always willing to offer help where needed. John and Mary’s Maine farmhouse was a special destination where visitors enjoyed many a lobster or ear of corn, picking blueberries from the field, or talking far too late into the night in the barn.

John was a gentleman farmer who relished tending to his vegetable gardens, fruit trees, flowers and even the forest on his land. It wasn’t uncommon to find John, all the way into his late 80s, riding his Kubota tractor as he plowed snow or mowed the field – or to see him on the roof cleaning lichen off the shingles. John rose at the crack of dawn and awakening on Lombard Hill Road meant the smell of his good, strong coffee and the sound of classical music wafting from the open doors of the barn as he set off to tend to fields and flowers.

John is sorely missed and survived by his brother, Dick Wagner (Dottie), his sister-in-law, Sally Wagner; his children, Mick Wagner (Holli), Jack Wagner (Laura Scott), Elizabeth Wagner, Julie Wagner, Ann Foley (Jim); his six grandchildren, Leslie Sullivan, Alex Wagner, Damian Padilla, Betsy Padilla, Danielle Griffin, and Rebecca Foley; as well as five great-grandchildren; and many loving nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

John was preceded in death by his brother, William Wagner; his daughter-in-law, Marie Bove Wagner; and his good friends and in-laws, Fran and Dewey Noland and Mason and Helen Barr.

John’s family is grateful for the loving care and companionship provided to him by the staff of Gorham House and Compassus Hospice. A celebration of life will be held in the summer of 2021.

Online condolence messages can be submitted at the Poitras, Neal and York Funeral Home website,

For those wishing to make donations in John’s memory, we suggest one of his favorite nature funds, The International Crane Foundation:, or supporting his fellow Mainers by donating to the Maine Homeless Veterans’ Alliance: or the Sacopee Valley End 68 Hours of Hunger Organization:

John E. Wagner

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