Obituary: Dr. Jerry Wagner, ADA Member for 58 Years

by Billy Tarpley on January 24, 2019

Jerry WagnerDr. Jerry E. Wagner, 83, of Fort Smith, passed away on January 22, 2019, after a brief illness. Jerry was born in Independence, Kansas to Dr. Edwin and Velma Wagner. He was a pediatric dentist and orthodontist in Fort Smith for 43 years.

Jerry’s accomplishments started at a young age when he earned Eagle Scout honors and became a member of the Order of the Arrow. He excelled at athletics, playing basketball and football through his high school years. He later attended University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Dentistry, where he earned his degree in dentistry. Throughout his life, he was an avid and accomplished fisherman, competing in the Fort Smith Bass Club, often winning the club title. In 1991 he made his way through the local, state, and regional tournaments, and earned a spot in the prestigious Bass Masters Classic which was held that year in the Chesapeake Bay. He finished 9th, the highest finishing amateur ever at the time. He went on to develop a passion for fly fishing and enjoyed his time with his wife at their home in Cotter on the White River, as well as travelling to the Western US to fish for trout. Jerry even had his own popular fishing segment on the local news for several years.

He was extremely giving throughout his life, often giving away his dentistry services for free to those in need. He was so beloved by all of his patients, he even walked one of them down the aisle at her wedding. There are many people that are so thankful to him for his care and for creating their beautiful smiles. He gave his time to elementary aged girls and coached his daughter’s Girls Club basketball for six years. He also conducted fishing clinics for disadvantaged young children. After seeing the benefits of exposure to college coaches their daughter received, he and his wife created the Tournament of Champions, a prestigious girls’ high school basketball tournament now in it’s 23rd year. Countless young women have earned college scholarships after playing in the tournament. Jerry was a great man to work for, with several of his beloved office staff and dental assistants having worked for him for 20-30 years. In 2003, Mayor Ray Baker gave him the Spirit of the Frontier Award for his many contributions to the City. After a stroke in 2005, Jerry was left unable to speak, but this did not stop his charming personality, fierce sense of humor, and giving spirit from showing. He remained positive and truly enjoyed his favorite things in life, still able to fish and travel, becoming a grandfather, dining out with family and friends, cheering for the Razorbacks and Lady Backs, and sitting with his cats and dogs. Lastly, his family would like to thank his giving and loving caretakers at Heart of Hospice and Greenhurst Nursing Center in Charleston, Arkansas, where he spent the past several months.

Jerry is survived by his wife of 43 years, Sandra Hendricks Wagner; two daughters, Sugar Bostick and her husband Mike of Fayetteville, Sarah and her husband Manu Joglekar of Warren, New Jersey; three grandchildren, Caroline Bostick, and Nathaniel and Julian Joglekar; brother and sister-in-law, Eddie and Pat Hendricks; and nephew, Gerald Hendricks.

Visitation will be held from 5:00pm – 7:00pm Friday, January 25th in Edwards Funeral Home Chapel. Funeral Service will be held at First Presbyterian Church in Fort Smith on Saturday, January 26th at 11:00am, followed immediately by burial at Oak Cemetery. Services are under the direction of Edwards Funeral Home.

Pallbears are: Mike Bostic, Manu Joglekar, Chris Meyers, Allyn Donaubauer, Dr. Wes Borengasser, and Dr. Jim Remerscheid. Honorary Pallbearers are: Fort Smith Dental Society, Dr. Steven Kilpatrick, Jerry Fleming, Don Schaap, Dr. Jim Burgess, Ron McConnell, Joe Ragsdale, Joe Byars Jr, Bur Edson, Dr. Cole Goodman, Dr. Roy Minish, Dr. Vent Murphy, Dr. David Harper, and Dr. Jim Lee.

Memorials may be made in his honor to Bost, Inc., or First Presbyterian Church in Fort Smith.

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