Sunday, November 25, 2012
Barbara J. Wagner, 85
Barbara Jane Wagner, a longtime resident of Weston and former First Selectman of the town, died at her home on Nov. 21 after a brief illness. She was 85.
Barbara Wagner: former Weston First Selectman. Contributed photo
Born in New York in 1927, and raised in Riverdale, N.Y., she graduated from the High School of Music and Art, and then attended Finch Junior College. She met her husband, Walter Wagner, in New York, and they married in 1952.
After a brief stint in Chicago, the couple moved to Weston in 1955. She lived in the same house for the 57 years. The Wagners raised four children there, all of whom attended the Weston Public Schools from kindergarten through 12th grade.
Her love of Weston was evident in many ways over her lifetime. Most notably, she served as First Selectman of Weston from 1973 to 1975, and her election marked the first time in the state’s history that a woman was elected to lead town government as mayor or selectperson.
Her election came after a campaign characterized by the slogan, “Time for Weston, Time for You,” and a promise to be a “full-time Selectman,” acknowledging the growing population of the town and the growing complexities of running its government.
Her commitment to access and transparency was symbolized by her establishment of the “Weston Hotline” directly into her home, and an invitation to all Westonites that they call any time with concerns or ideas.
She also created the town’s first police department, and became its first chief of police. She also worked in various positions in the Town Hall and was a longtime board member of the Aspetuck Land Trust.
She was a very active volunteer for political, charitable and other organizations. She was a member and staunch supporter of the Westport Community Theater, producing many shows over the years, and occasionally appearing on stage.
She worked for years at the Westport homeless shelter. Most recently, she enjoyed working with the Westport Woman’s Club, and serving in the Altar Guild at Christ & Holy Trinity Church in Westport.
For the last several years, she could be found nearly every weekday morning at Oscar’s Deli in Westport for coffee and breakfast, with the same group of Westport Y friends.
She was predeceased by her husband, Walter Wagner, and is survived by her four children, Jonathan Wagner, of Weston; Jennifer Wagner-Lawlor, of State College, Pa.; Daniel Wagner, of Lubec, Maine; and Margaret Wagner, of London, England; her four grandchildren, Stephen, Dylan and Colin Wagner, and Jonathan Lawlor.
Donations may be made in her memory to The Connecticut Humane Society.
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Note: WestportNow Publisher Gordon F. Joseloff is also First Selectman of Westport