PORT CLINTON - Dr. V. William Wagner, a family physician for more than 25 years known for his positive outlook and personal care who was the Ottawa County coroner for a decade, died Tuesday, the day after his 80th birthday, in Magruder Hospital.
Dr. Wagner of Ottawa County's Catawba Island Township retired in the early 1980s because of heart problems. He had been in ill health since a stroke several years ago.
Dr. Wagner retired as coroner in 1983, about the same time he retired as a family practitioner.
For Dr. Wagner, being coroner meant solving mysteries "and helping families at perhaps the hardest time," his son Peter said. "My father had a very traditional view of [being coroner]. He honored the dead the way he honored the living."
Dr. Wagner helped in the coroner's office when his predecessor was ill and was appointed to the post when that coroner died in office. He then ran for the office successfully as a Republican.
As coroner, he was given state protection after he ruled the death of a state trooper a homicide, caused by the gunshot of an escaped convict. Drownings in Lake Erie were coroner's cases, and he became acutely aware of water safety.
"He was very adamant that people didn't have to drown," said his son. "They should be respectful of nature and learn to swim and boat safely."
Dr. Wagner was respected as a physician and a coroner, especially in "his care for the individual patient, both as a private practitioner and coroner," said Dr. Kenneth Akins, who was Ottawa County coroner from 1983-2000.
"He was an intelligent doctor," Dr. Akins said.
Dr. Wagner, a native of Dover, Ohio, was a U.S. Navy veteran and a graduate of Bowling Green State University and Ohio State University medical school. Early in his career, he chose Port Clinton as a place to settle down and raise his young family.
"He was an old-fashioned doctor who would stop at the scene of an accident, who would do house calls," his son said. "He was a warm, empathetic, sincere man who tried to put a positive outlook on nearly anything, and he used his humor to do that."
By retirement, Dr. Wagner was seeing the children and grandchildren of his first patients.
"He liked the concept of treating the whole family," his son said. "And he liked it when he treated generations of a family."
Surviving are his wife, Lois Ann Wagner, whom he married Dec. 21, 1968; sons, Rick, Jeff, and Peter Wagner; daughter, Andrea Karshuk, and seven grandchildren.
Visitation will be from 2 to 5 p.m. tomorrow in the Gerner-Wolf-Walker Funeral Home, Port Clinton. Services will be at 11 a.m. Monday in Trinity United Methodist Church, Port Clinton.
The family suggests tributes to the Catawba Island Volunteer Fire Department or the Ida Rupp Public Library, Port Clinton.