Dr. Lavern J. Wagner, age 86, of 2645 Hillside Drive, Quincy died Tuesday, December 4, 2012, at 4:50 pm in his home.
Lavern was born December 30, 1925 in Bellevue, Iowa, the son of Theodore and Florence Mertz Wagner. He married Joan Mary Ernst on June 16, 1951 in Bellevue, Iowa. She preceded him in death May 8, 1996. He married Bernice Kee on September 5, 1998 in Quincy. She survives.
Dr. Wagner was the first student to receive the Bachelor of Music degree (maxima cum lauda, 1949) from Loras College, the Bachelor of Music Education (1952) from Oberlin College Conservatory, and the Master of Music (1953) and Doctor of Philosophy (1957) degrees from the University of Wisconsin. He was the first person to receive a PhD in musicology from the University of Wisconsin. He was the first Elsa A. Sawyer graduate scholar at Wisconsin (1952-1953), had University Fellowships (1955-1957) and was a National Endowment for the Humanities, Fellow in Renaissance Music (1975-1976)
Dr. Lavern Wagner was Professor Emeritus of Music at Quincy College in 1991, where he had served as professor of music and department chair for twenty-seven years (1958 to 1985). He developed one of the first music business programs in the country and was professor of music history and music theory. He also served as librarian of Quincy College (1986-1991). Lavern co-authored a music appreciation text, published numerous articles, served as an editor of sacred music, composed sacred works and three high school musicals. He and his family made three records. Wagner served as a cornetist in the United States Army for three years, performed in the Mississippi River Brass Band, and played in the Quincy Early Music Consort (on recorder and crumhorn), and the Heidelberg German Band (on accordion), and the Quincy Park Band. He was a member of the American Musicological Society, Society for American Music, American Recorder Society, and was secretary- treasurer of AFM Local 265 in Quincy.
He received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and was a guest speaker at Europalia 85 Espana in Brussels, Belgium in 1985. He received the Charles R. Winking Award for outstanding work in music education at Quincy College in 1991, and received the City of Quincy Arts Award in 2008. He was the only scholar to have publications in two disparate fields of music research ( 16th Century music and American Band music).
Twenty-five years of research into Spanish Renaissance music resulted in the publication of fourteen volumes. An interest in American band music of the mid-nineteenth century began about 1980 and led to the publication in 1998 of Band Music from the Benjamin H. Grierson Collection. Grierson was stationed at Ft. Davis, Texas following the end of the Civil War, and it was at this location that Wagner conducted considerable research into the General’s life. In addition to studying the General’s life and the mid-nineteenth century American band, Wagner has corrected the many errors found in the part books of this music. He lectured on this publication at SIU Carbondale, the Sonneck Society for American Music, the University of Memphis and Henderson State University in Arkansas. Dr. Wagner conducted a number of Grierson’s works on C-SPAN in 1994 at the recreation of the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debate in Quincy.
He published their memoir, Pick up your Feet: A Family’s Music and Mirth, Living and Loving in 2003. Other publications include Phoenix Rising, and A History of the German Heidelberg Band as well as numerous articles in “Groves Dictionary of Music”.
Survivors include 14 children, Gerry (Holly) Wagner of Quincy, Mary (Jimmy) Hefferman of Glen Burnie, MD, Heidi (Timothy) Fielding of N Hollywood, CA, Brian (Audrey) Wagner of Carbondale, IL, Jeanine (Margaret) Wagner of Carbondale, IL, Bernadette (Tom) Allbaugh of Alta Loma, CA, Ted (Jean) Wagner, Abilene, TX, Cecilia Wagner of Philadelphia, PA, Martin (Karen) Wagner of Quincy, Catherine Wagner-Inman of Quincy, IL, Jillian (Cole) Miller of Quincy, IL, Erica Wagner, Newport News, VA, Chris Wagner of Quincy, IL, and Todd (Alaina) Wagner of Quincy; 28 grandchildren; two great grandchildren; 1 sister, Celesta Harrison, Yuma, AZ; five stepchildren, Ms. Pat Livingston of Quincy, IL, Cynthia (Sam) Edwards, Smithfield, NC, Diane (Terry) Riley, Quincy, IL, Mark (Linda) Walz, Olathe, KS, Greg Walz, Granite City, IL , Mary (Scott) Yates, Quincy, IL; 14 step grandchildren; 7 step great grandchildren.
Lavern was also preceded in death by his parents.
Services: 11:00 am Saturday, December 8, 2012 at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church with Rev. Marten Eden officiating.
Burial: Greenmount Cemetery, Quincy, Illinois
Visitation: 3:00 pm – 7:00 pm, Friday December 7, 2012 at Hansen-Spear Funeral Home
Memorials: Lavern Wagner Scholarship at Quincy University or Lavern and Joan Wagner Music Scholarship at Quincy High School
Hansen-Spear Funeral Directors are in charge of the arrangements.