Obituary: Donald Wagner, 87, Ludington.

April 30, 2020

Donald Wagner

Obituary: Donald Wagner, 87, Ludington.

Donald H. (Don) Wagner, 87, of Ludington, passed away Friday, April 24, 2020 at Crystal Woods Assisted Living Facility in Kalamazoo.  He had also been under the supportive care of the Hospice of Southwest Michigan team for the past seven months.

Don was born July 24, 1932, in Sherman Township near Custer, the son of Amanda B. and Bernard Wagner, Sr. (who preceded him in death).  He attended Reek School and later Scottville High School, graduating with the class of 1950.

He married the love of his life, Dorothy L. Hansen on October 29, 1955 at Bethany Lutheran Church, Ludington (she preceded him in death on February 15, 2010).  They lived 54 happy years together in the home that Don proudly built for his family.

Don’s life work was a bricklayer/mason. His projects included: the little brick schoolhouse on Mackinac Island, Bethany Lutheran Church, the gymnasium/pool for Ludington Area Schools, donor bricks at Oriole Field, the Consumers Energy pump storage project, and many basements, patios, and fireplaces throughout the area. The outcome of every project was important to him. He also valued the safety and comradery of his colleagues and enjoyed mentoring young tradesmen. Even when he “officially” set down his trowel, he was known to do “one more project” until he was 75 years old.   He retired as the custodian at Foster Elementary School where he felt blessed to be a part of the “Foster Family.”

He was a member of Bethany Lutheran Church, Ludington where he served on the church council.  Don was also a member of the Fraternal Order of Eagles, Danish Brotherhood, Sons of the American Legion, local and state Democratic party, Ludington Optimist Club, and the Bricklayers Union.

He enjoyed Detroit Tigers baseball, Buffalo Bills football, deer hunting with the young guys, Monday night football with his buddies, and daily coffee visits with numerous friends. However, his favorites were a great polka band to dance to with his Dorothy and the calls and visits from his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Surviving are: his daughter, Kathy Praedel of Kalamazoo; granddaughter Jennifer (James) Kegley of Florence, Ky.; grandson Chris (Erin) Praedel of Kalamazoo; great-grandsons Paul Kegley, Lincoln Praedel, Simon Praedel and Felix Praedel (who was born 16 hours following his great grandpa’s passing), and great-granddaughter Rose Kegley who is due to arrive soon.  Also, sisters-in-law, Phyllis Reid of Free Soil and Irene Wagner of Ludington; brother-in-law Roger (Gerry) Hansen of Ludington and cousins, nieces/nephews, great nieces/nephews, many friends and many caregivers.

In addition to his parents and wife, Don was preceded in death by his twin brother Ronald Wagner, older brother Bernard Wagner, mother and father-in-law Lena and William Hansen, many aunts and uncles, nephew Steve Hansen and brother-in-law Burton Reid.

While Don was not aware of our current COVID19 pandemic, here are a few things that we might learn from his example during these unprecedented times:

  • Smile, laugh, have an optimistic attitude and be kind – it’s contagious but in a good way
  • Seek reassurance from the Bible and through prayer
  • Support your community – especially children (donate your time, write a check, and/or be their advocate)
  • Vote
  • Treasure your friendships
  • Start every day with breakfast at Café 106 and end each day with a pineapple sundae from Dairy Queen
  • Appreciate every day with those you love and tell them often:  “I love you”

Don also used the following phrase to reassure anyone who was experiencing stress or worry, so:  “Keep ‘er Cool!”

Don pre-planned his celebration of life but unfortunately, we are unable to be together at this time due the COVID-19 “stay at home stay safe” order.  Once it is safe to do so we will gather in his honor.

In lieu of flowers, those wishing to make memorial contributions are asked to consider donations to the Ludington Area Schools Oriole Foundation or the Ludington Optimist Club.

Arrangements have been entrusted to Oak Grove Funeral Home of Ludington. Please share a memory and view Don’s online video tribute at


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