Jerry Wagner Obituary
Jerry Wagner, 80, of Shoreham, died unexpectedly Saturday, February 3rd, 2024. He instantly saw Jesus face to face and beheld the glory of God. His eternal life in heaven has begun and his greatest earthly sorrow has been healed. He is again with his treasured wife Joyce, who preceded him in death in 2019.
Jerry's greatest passion was to share with others that Jesus loves them and died to forgive them of their sins and give them eternal life.
Jerry was born March 16, 1943. He was one of ten children born to William and Alwina Wagner, German immigrants who came to America from Russia and found each other in Benton Harbor, MI. They married and started their family here. Jerry was one of six children in this family that grew to adulthood. Three were lost as infants and Harry died at 13. Jerry is preceded in death by his parents, 3 infant siblings, brother Harry, sister and brother-in-law Dorothy and Paul Orlando, nephew Craig Orlando, brother-in-law Jack Tyler.
Jerry's life truly embodied the traditional concept of the “American dream”. Raised by immigrants who came to America with nothing. They worked hard to raise a family. Jerry was motivated to succeed and considered it fun to work, he saw it as his hobby. He attended Benton Harbor High School and had several odd jobs as a teen. He worked at Eitel’s Bakery in Benton Harbor where he met Joyce Redding who would become his bride. After he married at 19, he took a job at VM and then Paramount Die Casting. While working at Paramount he made a plan to start buying real estate for rental property. He bought his first rental at age 27. At 33 he retired from Paramount to pursue his rental investments full time. He continued for the rest of his life to provide homes and apartments to hundreds of individuals and families. He was a kind and generous man and loved to see others succeed.
Jerry provided a beautiful home for his wife Joyce, daughter Tonya, and whole family to enjoy. Jerry loved the Lord and fully trusted in Jesus for his salvation. In 1999 Jerry was able to travel to Israel to see the land of the Bible and even be baptized in the Jordan river. Jerry loved to hear the Bible taught. He served the church in many ways over his lifetime, in everything from painting, building committees, church boards, to opening his home for church events and baptisms. He always marveled at the majesty of God's creation and wondered how anyone could deny that there was a creator who designed all the beauty in the world. When encouraged to travel and experience more of God's creation, he would sit, motion out the kitchen window toward Lake Michigan and say, “Why would I want to go anywhere else? This is the most beautiful place in the world!”
Jerry is survived by his daughter and son-in-law Tonya and Tom Hough, grandson Micah Hough, sister Ruth Tyler, brothers William (Rachel) Wagner, Erv (Martha “Joey”) Wagner, Robert (Linda) Wagner, in-laws Richard and Janet Levay. As well as many nieces and nephews that he loved dearly.
He always had a dog in his life. His last animal companion, Hannah, saw him through many days of grief since the passing of his wife. Hannah was always at his side as he visited the cemetery, grabbed fast food, or parked downtown to people watch.
Jerry acquired many many friends through his life. Many were in the rental real estate field or tradespeople he did business with. Every week he could be found at a local restaurant with a gathering of these friends, laughing, regaling each other and those at neighboring tables with tales from their childhoods, and colorful business dealings. As Jerry grew older it gave him great joy to make others laugh and get them to “think outside the box”.
We praise God for all of His gifts and we can praise God for giving us Jerry and for a life well lived. A Celebration of Life Service will be held at 10:30 A.M., Monday, February 12, 2024 at Starks & Menchinger Chapel and Cremation Service, 2650 Niles Rd., St. Joseph with Pastors Len Pera and Tom Hough officiating. Burial will follow at Riverview Cemetery in St. Joseph. Friends may visit from 3:00 P.M. until 7:00 P.M., Sunday, February 11, 2024 at the funeral home. Those wishing to share a memory of Jerry online may do so at www.stark-menchinger.com