Russell's Story

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On May 17, 2017, Heaven gained an angel by the name of Russell William, Wagner, though most people knew him simply as "Doc." Doc Wagner passed in his home in Benzonia, hand in hand with the love of his life of almost 61 years and his youngest son. RW "Doc" Wagner, D.V.M., was born Sept. 28, 1932 to Clifford M. Wagner and Clara E. Wheeler in Tecumseh.
After he graduated from Tustin High School he went on to serve in the United States Marine Corps from 1950 to 1954.
After his honorable discharge he went on to Michigan State University to start his journey with veterinary medicine.
Little did he know, love was going to suddenly hit him in the form of Mary Ellen Davis hitting him with her vehicle by accident. They married June 2, 1956 and went on to have their first son, William Clifford "Biff," in 1957, graduated with his Doctorate degree in 1960, had their second son, Matthew Scott, in 1961 and third son, Andrew Mark, in 1963.
Doc loved two things, his work and his family. He incorporated holistic methods into his practice and was one the first to combine traditional Chinese acupuncture and veterinary medicine. He went on to be a founding member and former president of the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society. On his business card was the phrase "To Care, To Touch, To Heal," and he applied that phrase as the foundation for life he led.
Though his professional list of accomplishments was vast, he greatest accomplishment was the legacy he left for his family. He loved his wife, his sons, his grandchildren and his great-grandchildren, and our love for him was mutual. He brightened everyone's day by singing a happy song, telling a funny story or just being considerate and genuine man. During the first meeting with hospice care, knowing this was a difficult transition for his wife, he sang "Smile and the Whole World Smiles with You." That was the essence of Doc's character, "To Care, To Touch, To Heal."
He was preceded in death by his parents; and his first-born son, "Biff."
He is survived by his wife, Mary Ellen; brothers, Richard (Doris) Wagner and Mike (Peggy) Wagner; sons, Matthew (Lori) Wagner and Andrew Wagner; grandchildren, Sarah (Aaron) Bauer, Nathan (Emma) Wagner, Abigail (Matthew) Chapman, Allison Wagner, Emily Wagner and Carly Wagner; and his great-grandchildren, Adelaide, Aliza, Cayden, Calliope, Beau, Simon and Quinten.
A memorial service will be held Friday, May 26, at 11 a.m., at the First Congregational Church of Benzonia. Visitation with the family will start at 10 a.m., and a luncheon will follow the service.
Any donations that are made will be given to the Animal Welfare League of Benzie County in honor of his memory.
Arrangements are by Jowett Family Funeral Homes & Cremation Service.
Published on May 21, 2017
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