6/19/1939 – 8/22/2019
Joanne Wagner, 80, passed away peacefully on Aug. 22, 2019, with her family by her side. She is survived by her husband of 60 years, Richard Wagner, her three sons, Mark (Shelley Rose), Dan (Leah) and Tom (Jennifer), her six grandchildren, her two great grandchildren and a multitude of friends.
Joanne Alice Wagner was born to Rex and Betty Young on June 19, 1939. Although California residents, Rex was serving in Korea and Betty birthed Joanne in her hometown of Watertown, South Dakota. Joanne had a younger brother, Curtis and they grew up in Van Nuys, California.
Joanne was in the first graduating class of Birmingham High School and then attended a year at Valley College, now Cal State University Northridge. She then transferred to Westmont College in Santa Barbara and within weeks met her husband, Richard Wagner. They courted and were wed in Van Nuys on Aug. 23, 1959. They then moved to Cupertino, California, where Richard became a teacher and completed his master’s degree in Education Administration.
Their first of three sons, Mark, was born in 1961, and Joanne gave herself 100 percent to raising her family. Her second son, Daniel, was born in 1964, and finally, their last, Tom, was born in 1969.
While Tom was still an infant, Joanne and Richard were called to serve the Lord with Wycliffe Bible Translators in Papua New Guinea, so they boarded a ship and two weeks later arrived in New Guinea. Richard was the principal of the local high school there and Joanne taught classes, entertained and raised her sons for the next 18 years.
Joanne continued her education and received her master’s degree in Cross-Cultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary in 1985.
After all of their boys had completed high school, Joanne and Richard returned to the United States where they continued to work with Wycliffe Bible Translators preparing others for the journey they had experienced. During this time, Joanne battled cancer and ultimately underwent a bone marrow transplant that extended her life for 30 years. After being given a clean bill of health, they returned to the South Pacific for a short time to serve as directors with WBT in Vanuatu and thoroughly enjoyed their time there.
Once they returned to the United States, they retired from service with WBT and moved to Carpinteria, California, as she always wanted to live by the ocean. Joanne spent much of her last few years caring for her beloved husband as he battles with Alzheimer’s.
Joanne would always greet you with a smile and a cup of tea. Joanne loved to travel, spend time at the beach, teach and mentor women. She enjoyed opening up her home to entertain and loved all who were placed in her path.
A memorial service to celebrate Joanne’s life will be held at Reality Church in Carpinteria on Sept. 14, 2019, at 3 p.m.