George Wagner [1935-2013]; Policeman had rentals, ice cream, chili shops


George Wagner, a former Toledo police officer who became a businessman and aspired to public service, died Saturday in his Oregon home. He was 78.

He was released from the hospital the day before, after surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm, his wife, Tempas, said.

Mr. Wagner joined the police force in 1963. As a uniformed officer, he worked largely in South Toledo. He also had a stint as a detective. Patrol work suited him best.

“He liked being on the street. He was a people person,” his wife said.

His motivation was straightforward: “Service to the community,” said Gene Fodor, a retired Toledo police detective and a friend for 61 years.

A series of heart attacks led to Mr. Wagner’s disability retirement in 1977, but he was far from idle. He owned rental properties in East Toledo.

He owned an ice cream business that had shops on Main Street and in the Erie Street Market, and the Original Chili Parlor, also in the market.

“George was quite an entrepreneur,” Mr. Fodor said.

Mr. Wagner was a Lucas County Democratic Party precinct committeeman. He ran unsuccessfully to be county Democratic chairman, presenting himself as an alternative to what he saw as an ultraliberal side of the party.

He also ran for Toledo City Council and the Ohio House of Representatives, but was not elected.

“He cared,” his wife said. His stepson Mike Zervas added: “And he wanted to make a difference.”

Mr. Wagner continued to express his views through frequent letters to The Blade “Readers’ Forum.” He was a member of the city’s charter review committee, the Civilian Police Review Board, and the International Park board.

In 2000, then-Mayor Carty Finkbeiner appointed him to care for the Toledo Police Memorial Garden downtown, and Mr. Wagner was responsible for the black granite headstones that now line the garden to honor officers who were killed in the line of duty.

“He was always the guy behind the scenes,” Mr. Fodor said.

Mr. Wagner was a former commander of American Legion Police Post 512. He was a Mason and a member of Paragon Lodge and was active in the Fraternal Order of Police.

He was born Feb. 12, 1935, to Edith and Howard Wagner and grew up in East Toledo. He went to Waite High School and was in the Air Force, stationed in Japan during the Korean War. Afterward, he worked for the Libbey-Owens-Ford Co. in Rossford.

Surviving are his wife, Tempas Wagner, whom he married May 9, 1977; daughters, Mary Sharp and Christine Rill; son, Frank Wagner; stepsons, Daniel and Mike Zervas; brothers, Rolland, Robert, and Edward Wagner; sisters, Beda Bevington and Sharon Truman; 22 grandchildren, and many great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be at 1 p.m. Friday in the Eggleston Meinert & Pavley Funeral Home, Oregon, where visitation will be from 2-9 p.m. today and Thursday and after 10 a.m. Friday. Masonic services are scheduled for 7 p.m. today and Fraternal Order of Police and American Legion police post services for 7 p.m. Thursday in the mortuary.

The family suggests tributes to Shriners Hospitals for Children.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: or 419-724-6182.