James's Story

Orono and Sorrento - James Burnham Wagner, departed his earthly life on August 17, 2016. He was born on July 6, 1931.
At 3 months, Jim moved to his Grandpa Burnham's farm in Chautauqua County, NY. He was home schooled by his teacher mother until he was seven, when he began to walk a mile to an 8 student one-room schoolhouse. Upon graduating from Cassadaga Valley High, he attended Alfred Univ., where he received his B.S. He then worked as an engineer at Sylvania in Seneca Falls, N.Y. He spent 2 years in the U.S. Army in France. His cold warrior period led to a lifetime passion for travel and foreign languages. In 1958, at JFK en route to Europe, he met Jacquelyn Rennie, the love of his life and the Mother to be of his children. Their paths crossed again 3 weeks later at the Brussels World's Fair. They were married in 1959 and spent 2 years back in Chautauqua, where Jacquie taught French and Jim worked as an engineer for Carborundum. In 1962, the couple packed up their baby daughter, Lori, and moved to Salt Lake City, where Jim acquired an M.A. in mathematics from the Univ. of Utah. They returned East in 1964, stopping in NY for the birth of Kim, and then proceeding to the U. Maine Orono, where Jim taught math. They achieved gender parity with the birth of Jamie in 1966 and Dany in 1975. Jim managed to get a M.A. in history from UMO, while teaching in the Math Dept. at UMO. Jim indulged his oral and local history passion in his creation of a 19th century "Living Farm" in the Skinner Settlement at Corinth, complete with a general store, where the family spent many idyllically primitive summers. Jim expanded his endeavors into Democratic politics, serving as a State Representative, Penobscot County Register of Probate and as a member of the Orono School Board. Jim and family also enjoyed two summers as a seasonal ranger at Acadia National Park, living in the former Satterlee cook's house behind Sand Beach. In 1991, Jim and Jacquie realized a life long dream of living on the Maine coast, buying a home in Sorrento, which they immensely enjoyed. Jim and family sadly lost Jacquie in 1996. Jim enjoyed his 4 time service as an election supervisor in Bosnia in 1997-98. While there, he visited the family of his former AFS "Son" Miroslav Juric in Croatia (the whole Wagner family had attended Miro's wedding to Svjetlana in Croatia). For most of the last two decades, Jim had the great fortune to connect with Patricia "Patti" Torrey. She enriched and refreshed his life ever since. They enjoyed walks by the water, dinners together, boggle, and visits with family and friends. A long, varied, and interesting life, filled with love.
Jim is survived by loving partner, Pat Torrey; his daughters, Lori Wagner (her sons, Ian and Gavin) and Kimberley Cramer, her husband, Hagen Cramer (their children, Sabrina, Dustin, Sophia and Lars); son, Jamie Wagner, his wife, Jennifer Bailey (their children, Liam, Marcus and Viviana); son, Daniel Wagner; and AFS son, Miroslav Juric and wife, Svjetlana (their children, Luka and Mia).
Friends may call from 4-6 p.m. Saturday, August 20, 2016, at the Orono Chapel of Brookings-Smith, 72 Main St., Orono. Funeral services will be held 1 p.m. Sunday, August 21, 2016, at the Orono United Methodist Church, 36 Oak St., Orono, with Pastor Steve Smith, officiating. Burial will be held at 12 noon Tuesday, August 23, 2016, at the Burnham Hollow Cemetery in Arkwright, New York.
Published in Bangor Daily News
Services by

Brookings-Smith Funeral Home

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