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Joseph Wagner

Funeral services for Joseph Wagner of Morris will be held Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 11:00 AM at First Lutheran Church in Morris. Reverend Arthur Montgomery will be officiating. Visitation will be held Tuesday from 4 to 7 PM at the Pedersen Funeral Home in Morris and for one hour prior to services at the church on Wednesday. Burial will be at St. Gall's Catholic Cemetery in Tintah, MN. Military rites will be provided by the Minnesota Army National Guard Honor Guard.

Joe Wagner was born at home in Traverse County to Nick and Mary (Koltes-Watry) Wagner on July 19, 1920. He was baptized and confirmed at St. Gall's Catholic Church in Tintah, Minnesota. He attended the St. Gall's Elementary School through the 5th grade. He became a member of the ELCA Lutheran Church in Alberta, MN in 1949. The family moved to Crow Wing County in 1932, where Joe finished his schooling. At the age of 15, he began supporting himself by working for neighbors and family. He left home at that time and moved to Stevens County making his home with his sister and brother-in-law, Hank and Helen Spohnholtz. He continued to work as a hired man on various farms for $10.00 a month and room and board.

In 1939, Joe joined Company K Minnesota National Guards out of Morris. Company K members were moved into the United States Army in 1941 and were sent to Camp Haan in California. They were stationed there when the United States entered WWII. Joe was shipped to Hawaii and then joined a Communications unit and served in Iwa Jima, Guam and Siapan. While serving, Joe was a power plant operator, where he operated a generator producing electric power to operate the instrument director on anti aircraft guns for a coast artillery unit and he also kept the generator cleaned and oiled. When WWII ended, Joe received an honorable discharge at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin in December, 1945. He had served five years in the Military.

In 1946, Joe began farming for himself. He married Marvel Griffen on August 27, 1947. They farmed north of Morris, South of Alberta and in 1950 purchased a farm in Pepperton Township in Stevens County. Joe and Marvel adopted two children and thus completed their family. In 1964, the family sold their farm and moved into Morris, where Joe worked for Ungers Furniture Store, Benson Produce and in 1972, he became a custodian at the University of Minnesota, Morris. Joe retired from the UMM in 1985.

Although Joe had not been medically discharged from Military Service, he suffered many medical problems over his remaining life. He entered the Good Samaritan Home in Hoffman, MN on September 12, 2007 and where he was always grateful for the wonderful care that he received.

Joe enjoyed hunting especially pheasants, playing cards and was an avid baseball player as a young man. He was a patient, kind and giving person to his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He was an avid reader, enjoyed working out of doors, visiting with family and friends. In 1949, Joe transferred his membership to First Lutheran in Morris, where he has remained a member. Joe was also a life member of the Morris American Legion Post #29 and the Veteran's of Foreign Wars #5039.

Joe died on Sunday, September 26, 2010 at the Hoffman Good Samaritan Home in Hoffman, MN, having lived to reach the age of 90 years.

Joe was preceded in death by his parents; three brothers: Casper, Nick and John; three sisters: Mary Wagner, Anna Johnson and Helen Spohnholtz; brothers-in-law: Hank Spohnholtz, Victor Johnson, Eldo Griffen, Dale Griffen, John Smith and Fred Moerke; sisters-in-law: Otto Lena Griffen, Francis Griffen and Bernadene Smith; niece: Mary Ann Johnson Ramsdell and nephews: Gerald Spohnholtz, Gail Smith, Ronald Smith, David Smith, Freddie Moerke and Darryl Griffen.

Joe is survived by his wife: Marvel Wagner of Morris; children: Terry Lee Wagner of St. Cloud and Debra Kim (Arnie) Kolden of Morris; grandchildren: Jennifer (Kirby) Johnson, Jeremy (Stacey) Kolden, Angela (Troy) Gocha, Elizabeth (Michael) Buss and Michael (Holly Varnum) Kolden; great-grandchildren: Cody, Max and Quin Johnson, Thea and Jacob Kolden, Julia, Austin and Dahlila Gocha, Zachary Buss, Lilyana and Michael Jr. Kolden; brother: Leonard (Beverly) Wagner of Moorhead; sisters-in-law: Estelle Griffen of Anoka and Ruth Moerke of Morris and 18 nieces and nephews.

Pallbearers for the service are: Arnie Kolden, Jeremy Kolden, Michael Kolden, Kirby Johnson, Troy Gocha and Michael Buss. Honorary pallbearers are all of Joe's great-grandchildren. Deb Mahoney will serve as organist for the service, with Evangeline Anderson, Lynn Bruss and Roger Schoephoerster providing special music. Pedersen Funeral Home in Morris is in charge of the arrangements.

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