Paul E. Wagner, 78, a civil engineer who worked on the interstate highway system in the 1960s and who founded a firm that specialized in residential, commercial, and municipal projects, died from complications of Parkinson's disease Thursday in the Parkcliffe Alzheimer's Community, where he lived about 2 1/2 years.
Mr. Wagner, of Maumee, retired in 1996 and closed his business, Waynesfield Construction, which he founded in 1972. The company was based in the Swanton area.
The firm often handled site development for subdivisions and for commercial and industrial projects. Waynesfield also was hired for underground construction projects, including municipal water and sewer line work.
Mr. Wagner was president but still worked in the field and did much of the estimating, said his son, Larry, who was vice president.
The company, at its peak, had 70 employees, and Mr. Wagner felt like a father figure, his son said.
"He really liked the relationship with everybody," his son said. "He was a very personable, outgoing guy."
Mr. Wagner was gifted in mathematics from a young age. Although he had no formal management training, he understood financial statements and other details of business ownership.
"He always had a firm handshake and would look you straight in the eye," his son said. "He did his best to honor his word, even when other people didn't."
Mr. Wagner was president in the mid to late 1970s of the northwest Ohio chapter of the Ohio Contractors Association.
He received a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from the University of Toledo.
After passing his professional engineer's exam, he worked on heavy construction and highway projects for the state of Ohio. He later worked for Finkbeiner, Pettis & Strout; Pierce Construction, and Hall Excavating, and was a partner in Bush Inc.
While with Jechura Bros. Construction, he helped devise plans to change the Jechura family's Raceway Park into a horse track, his son said.
Mr. Wagner found satisfaction in being "part of that whole process of building the Toledo area," his son said. "He was a lifelong resident and loved the area." He grew up in West Toledo and was a graduate of DeVilbiss High School.
He was a Navy veteran of World War II and served in the Pacific.
Mr. Wagner was active in St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Maumee and, later, in Church of the Good Shepherd, Wayne, Ohio. He and his wife, Joan, were part of fellowship groups and attended church conferences around the country.
"They and I had the born-again experience in coming to the realization that there was a little more to it than occupying the pew and having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ," his son said.
"He was very gregarious and gracious and always had a smile and was very positive and optimistic," his son said.
Surviving are his wife, Joan, whom he married Aug. 7, 1948; sons, Larry, David, Peter, and William; brother, Jack Wagner, and seven grandchildren.
Services will be at 1 p.m. tomorrow in the Maison-Dardenne-Walker Funeral Home, Maumee, where the body will be after 2 p.m. today.
The family suggests tributes to St. Paul's Episcopal Church Respite Care of Maumee; Parkcliffe Assisted Living; Hospice of Northwest Ohio, or Church of the Good Shepherd, Wayne.