Dr. Paul Dean Wagner

Oral surgeon, great outdoorsman, devoted father, loving husband, loyal friend, and all-around really nice guy, Dr. Paul Dean Wagner (Wags) died peacefully surrounded by his immediate family in Lawrence, Kansas, June 1, after a long and brave battle with Parkinson’s. He leaves behind an enormous legacy and wonderful memories of adventure, leadership, friendship, general orneriness, and undeniable service to those around him.  He carried a quiet, caring demeanor, a surprising sense of humor, and a strong, adventurous spirit
Born Christmas Eve 1937 in Beloit, KS.  His parents, Oral and Mary, instilled a sense of honor, fairness, hard work, and devotion to his family at a young age. Early years included working on farms and at the family drugstores, school athletics, lifeguarding, and 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)
Before graduating in 1961 from the University of Kansas School of Pharmacy, he played drums in the KU Bands and Orchestra, worked as a physiology lab assistant, and was a member of Alpha Nu Chapter, Beta Theta Pi.  He also met and married the love of his life, Sharon, who happened to live next door.
Paul worked at Family Drug in Lincoln, Nebraska, witnessing the birth of two beautiful daughters, Anne and Mary Beth, and decided he would rather write prescriptions instead of filling 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 quarters a year. He continued with a medical internship at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, and residency at Hershey Medical Center and Harrisburg Hospital, finishing 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, back-packing, and hiking in beautiful Pennsylvania and neighboring states!  He served on the boards of the Pennsylvania Sierra Club, and the Appalachian Trail Conference, leading a group who saved Stony Creek Valley, and helped maintain hiking trails.  He ran the Harrisburg Marathon, the first of many to come, including Boston, National Capital of Canada and NYC.
In 1975 Kansas friends and family recruited the Wagners to come home. And, the Wagner pre-teen daughters agreed to leave their beloved Hershey for Kansas – if they could ski in Colorado and get a cat!  That being achievable, Paul returned to Kansas with his family and began his own OMS practice in Hays.  Appropriately on Labor Day, Paul Jr. (PJ) was welcomed to complete their family!  Soon Paul organized the Hays Area Road Runners, (HARR! HARR!) and a fun-loving group of running addicts developed.  A bicycling group followed. Suddenly, marathon, triathlon, and distance bicycling competition and recreational trips were in order, and great friendships were born!  He served in professional capacities there as well:  Chief of Staff of Hays Medical Center, State President of KS Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Society, President of the energetic Western KS Dental Study Club.


Dr. Wagner and his family loved to back pack and canoe in the Minnesota and Canadian Boundary Waters, and the Colorado Mountains.  They were able to ski in Colorado, Ride the Rockies, Bike Across Kansas, Tour Wyoming, and compete in numerous races and events!  Laughing, joking, loving, challenging, developing great friendships, creating special memories, all part of his persona, continued in 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 lifts were open.  Terrific friendships were established with like minded residents who loved the clean air, beautiful mountains, and the active lifestyle.  These friends were a special mix of different cultures, from many parts of our country.  Yet, all were still contributing to our world, working for Habitat of Humanity, Mountain Rescue, and in many other volunteering 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 his great granddaughter, Roo Elliot Seaford of Solvang, CA.
Paul was preceded in death 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 honoring diversity, tolerance, and service to others. Because he requested cremation, a celebration of life event will take place in Lawrence in the fall of 2022.
Memorial Contributions may be made in Paul’s name to:  Friends of the Boundary Waters, (https://www.friendsbwca.org/donate/) The Parkinson’s Foundation, Sierra Club, or Habitat for Humanity, sent in care of Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home, P.O. Box 1260 Lawrence, Kansas 66044.

Messages & Condolences

From Cheri Dewitz Starn...

Dear Wagner Family
Praying for each of you as you grieve the loss of a man who lovingly carried many titles; husband, father, friend & many others. Paul’s Celebration of Life will be a very special party indeed! His Life Lived Imprint is huge, what a blessing that is! Love to each of you ❤️

From Dan Hubbard...

I am saddened to learn of Dr Wagner’s passing but delighted to read the words of a life well-lived. Wishing peace and comfort to the Wagner family, especially to high school friends Anne & Mary Beth.

From Patricia Ferland...

I enjoyed working with Dr. Wagner, his gentle demeanor and kindness to his patients were two of his many attributes. May God wrap His loving arms around you and give you peace.

From Risa...

I enjoyed my time spent while taking care of Paul. We swam and played pool…he always had great stories to share. Paul was a gentle giant. He will be missed.

From Laryl Rous...

What a fantastic life he led with his inspiration for his family and the area of Hays and Ellis county.

Influenced many people to run, bike, as well as taking care of Mother Earth.

Definitely one of a kind!

From Don & Becky Little...

“I know for certain that we never lose the people we love, even to death. They continue to participate in every act, thought and decision we make. Their love leaves an indelible imprint in our memories.” —Leo Buscaglia
Paul did on Becky and I!

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