Raisin Township mourns loss of supervisor
Tuesday, Oct. 9, was a sad day in Raisin Township as officials and residents learned that their Township Supervisor, Carl Wagner, passed away earlier that day following his brave battle with cancer.
Wagner’s affiliation with Raisin Township goes back much farther than his tenure as supervisor that began in 2004. He served as Fire Chief for 28 years, and also served on the Planning Commission and Raisin Township Board as a Trustee prior to becoming supervisor.
When he was first settling into the position eight years ago, Wagner commented that becoming supervisor was something he’d hoped to do since the days he’d served as Fire Chief, but time did not allow it while he was traveling with a full-time position in the computer industry. After retirement, he ran a write-in campaign, but then suffered a heart attack. But that didn’t keep him from his goal, and he was elected to the position in 2004.
One of the first things he did as supervisor was to ask the township’s departments to scrutinize their budgets to look for areas where spending could be trimmed at a time when the economy had begun to deteriorate. One of his sayings was, “If you watch your pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves.”
When interviewed as he settled into his new position, Wagner told the Herald that one of his biggest goals was to be able to provide necessary services to the township but to do so within the township’s means. “We have to budget the same way citizens at home have to do it,” he said then. “If you don’t cut spending somewhere, you will run out of money. Township government is no different.”
Many of the people who knew Wagner spoke of his dedication and commitment to Raisin Township.
“He loved this township and he loved what he was doing,” said Debra Brousseau, who serves on the board as a trustee and is also the township’s Parks and Recreation Director. Wagner was serving as Fire Chief when Brousseau moved into the community and began working as an EMT in a field that had been dominated by men. “He was always supportive and always encouraging and he served as a mentor to me, especially when I decided to cross the line and go into the firefighting side of the department as the first female. Carl told me to ‘go for it.’” She said he also served as best man at her wedding.
Wagner was instrumental in getting an ambulance service going at Raisin Township, and Brousseau said, “It was always his baby.” When the township had its own service, it covered a large area and was known as one of the best, she said.
Township Clerk Betty Holdridge said when she started in 1994, she worked with Wagner when he was in the fire department, but the day-to-day work with him started in 2004 when he took office as supervisor.
“He was just a wonderful person to work with,” she said, and added that whenever there was a computer glitch in the office, he would fix it, drawing on his experience in the industry. One of his final gifts to the township was finalizing the budget, a task Wagner worked hard to complete just two weeks ago. Holdridge said just recently, Wagner caught a change in the budget that she hadn’t had a chance to tell him about.
“He was still on top of his game right up until probably this last week,” she said. “It’s really just going to be so different now.”
Raisin Township Treasurer Delight Sieler said she has known both Carl and Kitty Wagner for over 32 years, and worked closely with Carl on ambulance subscriptions when the service first started.
“He was also a very good friend,” she said. “When my husband died, Carl was in Ohio and he drove straight through to get back here. He will surely be missed.”
Raisin Township Trustee Jim Palmer said it’s difficult to just say a few words about Wagner, because he had so many positive attributes.
“Carl tried his very best to always make the best decisions for the majority,” he said. “He was a very conservative, conscientious fellow with compassion for everyone and for the betterment of the community. He was always organized and always on top of everything.” Palmer said in a township that is 50 percent farmers and 50 percent residential, balance can be tough. “But Carl could do that,” he said.
Wagner’s influence could even be seen at Monday night’s township meeting as trustees talked of consulting with him at home for his opinion on agenda items affecting the township he so loved.
“Carl was a go-to person,” said Brousseau. “He was involved to the end. His final gift to us was the work he did to get the budget ready, and he came in every morning up until two weeks ago to do that. It’s difficult to think of him no longer being a part of the township.”
Palmer said in a sense, Wagner would remain so with the groundwork he laid.
“Carl’s heart was in the township and he started some things that we want to keep going,” he said. “We can go on in that strength.”
Wagner will have a full firefighter’s funeral, which will be held on Saturday, Oct. 13 at the Tecumseh Center for the Arts at 11 a.m. Services will include an earlier procession that will travel through Raisin Township with a draped fire truck at the end of the vehicles. Visitation will be Friday, Oct. 12, at Handler’s Funeral Home, from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m., with a countywide firefighters walk-through at 7 p.m.