Dr. Paul Dean Wagner – Hays Daily News


Oral surgeon, avid outdoorsman, devoted father, loving husband, loyal friend and genuinely nice guy, Dr. Paul Dean Wagner (Wags) passed away peacefully surrounded by his immediate family in Lawrence, Kansas on June 1 after a long and courageous battle against Parkinson’s disease. He leaves behind a huge legacy and wonderful memories of adventure, leadership, friendship, general bad temper and undeniable service to those around him. He had a calm, caring demeanor, a surprising sense of humor, and a strong, adventurous spirit.

Born on Christmas Eve 1937 in Beloit, KS. His parents, Oral and Mary, instilled a sense of honor, fairness, hard work and dedication in his family at a young age. The early years included work on farms and in family pharmacies, school athletics, supervising, and the Boy Scouts of America, where he became an honored Eagle Scout. Here he developed an immense appreciation for the great outdoors, leadership and physical fitness. He graduated in 1957 from Mankato High School. (KS)

Prior to graduating in 1961 from the University of Kansas School of Pharmacy, he played drums in KU bands and orchestra, worked as a physiology lab assistant, and was a member of the Alpha Nu Chapter, Beta Theta Pi He also met and married the love of his life, Sharon, who lived next door. Paul worked at Family Drug in Lincoln, Nebraska, witnessed the birth of two beautiful daughters, Anne and Mary Beth, and decided he’d rather write prescriptions than fill them. So, he moved his young family to Memphis, where he was able to work his way through the University of Tennessee School of Dentistry in 3 years, completing 4 terms a year. He continued with a medical internship at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, and residency at Hershey Medical Center and Harrisburg Hospital, ending in 1972. He soon became a diplomat of the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.

While living and practicing oral surgery in Hershey, he introduced his growing family to running, canoeing, hiking and backpacking in beautiful Pennsylvania and surrounding states! He served on the boards of the Pennsylvania Sierra Club and the Appalachian Trail Conference, leading a group that saved Stony Creek Valley and helped maintain hiking trails. He ran the Harrisburg Marathon, the first of many to come, including Boston, Canada’s national capital and New York.

In 1975, friends and family in Kansas recruited the Wagners to return home. And the preteen Wagner girls agreed to leave their beloved Hershey for Kansas — if they could ski in Colorado and have a cat! With that achievable, Paul returned to Kansas with his family and started his own OMS practice in Hays. Fittingly on Labor Day, Paul Jr. (PJ) was welcomed in to complete their family! Soon Paul was organizing the Hays Area Road Runners (HARR! HARR!) and a group of running enthusiasts grew. A group of cyclists followed. Suddenly, marathons, triathlons, distance cycling competitions and recreational trips were in order, and great friendships were born! He has also held professional positions there: chief of staff at Hays Medical Center, state president of the KS Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Society, president of the energetic Western KS Dental Study Club.

Dr. Wagner and his family enjoyed backpacking and canoeing in the waters bordering Minnesota and Canada and in the mountains of Colorado. They were able to ski Colorado, Ride the Rockies, Bike Across Kansas, Tour Wyoming and participate in many races and events! Laughing, joking, loving, challenging, developing great friendships, creating special memories, it’s all part of his personality, continued during his retirement.

In 2005, Paul retired from his OMS practice and moved with Sharon to Arrowhead Mountain in the Vail Valley. Here the beautiful mountains were in his backyard, skiing was available every day, the ski lifts were open. Wonderful friendships were made with like-minded residents who loved clean air, beautiful mountains and an active lifestyle. These friends were a special mix of different cultures, coming from many parts of our country. Yet all were still contributing to our world, working for Habitat of Humanity, Mountain Rescue, and many other volunteer capacities.

Paul was married to Sharon Mather on July 17, 1960 in Stafford, Kansas. Sharon survives him and resides in Lawrence. Other survivors are his children: Anne Wagner Dewitz, of Olathe, KS, Mary Beth (Gregg) Minion of Glenwood Springs, CO. and Paul Dean (Elizabeth Curry) Wagner, Jr. of West Hollywood, CA. and his grandchildren: Kyle Dewitz of Nashville, TN, Alec (Tom Bethany) Hynes of New York, NY, Casey Hynes-(Nathan) Seaford of Solvang, CA, and Elissa Dewitz of North Hollywood, CA. and her great-granddaughter, Roo Elliot Seaford of Solvang, California.

Paul was predeceased by his parents Oral Harlan Wagner and Mary Amis Wagner of Mankato KS and his brother Sam Wagner of Smith Center, Kansas.

A member of the Unitarian Church of Memphis and Harrisburg, Paul lived a life of honoring diversity, tolerance, and service to others. Because he requested cremation, a celebration of the life event will be held in Lawrence in the fall of 2022.

Memorial contributions may be made in Paul’s name to: Friends of the Boundary Waters, (https://www.friends-bwca.org/donate/) The Parkinson’s Foundation, Sierra Club or Habitat for Humanity, sent in care of Rumsey – Yost Funeral Home, PO Box 1260 Lawrence, Kansas 66044. Online condolences made at rumsey-yost.com


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