Joseph Michael Wagner and Claudia Benedict Wagner

Nov. 24, 1937 - Oct. 21, 2021 | June 20, 1936 - Oct. 27, 2021

Joseph Michael Wagner and Claudia Benedict Wagner
Joseph Michael Wagner and Claudia Benedict Wagner

Blessed with a loving marriage of nearly 63 years, Joe and Claudia died peacefully, surrounded by family.  

Joseph Michael Wagner died Oct. 21, 2021, age 83. Born Nov. 24, 1937, in Knoxville, Tennessee, to Aubrey Joseph Wagner and Dorothea Johanna Huber Wagner, Joe earned degrees from Wittenberg University (1959), Lutheran Southern Seminary (M.Div. 1963) and Princeton Theological Seminary (D.Min. 1987).

As an ordained Lutheran pastor, Joe served congregations in Norfolk, Virginia, and Terre Haute, Indiana, on synod and national staff of the Lutheran Church in America (Philadelphia), and as Director of the Division for Ministry of the new Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (1987-2002, Chicago), where he worked to build unity among church denominations. Joe was a faithful servant of Christ, a gifted leader, a kind person, and wise thinker whose counsel was sought and cherished by many.    

Claudia Benedict Wagner died Oct. 27, 2021, age 85. Born June 20, 1936, in Sedro-Woolley, Washington, to Harold Oscar Benedict and Ruth Motley Benedict, Claudia grew up in Seattle (Lincoln High School 1954) and earned degrees from Wittenberg University (B.S. Ed. 1958) and Indiana State University (M.S. 1971). A gifted educator, Claudia changed the lives of high school and college students across eight states. Claudia had the teacher’s talents of analysis and communication. She loved a story and the turn of a phrase, and she fiercely believed in young people – her students and her family.   

Claudia and Joe met in the Wittenberg College choir and married in 1958. Their faith in Christ grounded and inspired them throughout life. They raised a close and loving family as they moved among several states. They were endlessly supportive of their family as it grew. They retired to Port Townsend, Washington in 2002, volunteered, and most recently were active members of Grace Lutheran.  They took great joy in the natural world, travel, learning, art, handmade things, a nice meal, and caring for plants and gardens. They were inseparable as a couple.

They are survived by three children, Melinda Wagner (Aaron Couch), Theresa Wagner (Carl Kaiser) and Paul Wagner (Carolyn); five grandchildren, Claire Kaiser, Nathan Couch, Daniel Kaiser, David Kaiser, and Andrew Couch; and extended family. Joint memorial at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20, at Our Redeemer’s Lutheran, 2400 NW 85th St., Seattle, WA 98117; online at . 

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