Kenneth E. Wagner, 87, passed away on June 24, 2017

Kenneth Edward Wagner, 87, passed away on June 24, 2017.
Visitation with family present will be at 10 a.m., with Celebration of Life service at 11 a.m., both  on Wednesday, June 28, 2017, at the First Christian Church, 300 W. Central, El Dorado.  A private family burial will be held at 2:30 p.m. at Memorial Park Cemetery in Emporia.  
Kenneth was born on April 23, 1930 on a farm near Hartford, Kan., to John G. and Mary H. Wagner. He grew up in the surrounding area of Emporia, Gridley, and spent a short time in Missouri near West Plains. His parents divorced and later his mother married Van Herman Spade. After returning from Missouri, he attended school near Emporia until fourth grade when he moved to a farm in the Gridley area, where he met Helen Stone, “The Neighbor Girl”. They both taught in neighboring one-room schools for one year and then were married on Sept. 20, 1949 in Yates Center, Kan.
He graduated from Gridley Rural High School with the class of 1948. He started his teaching career with a Provisional Certificate after attending Kansas State Teachers College in Emporia for 12 weeks in the summer. He began teaching in rural schools in Coffey and Woodson Counties and Teterville. He continued his education with night and summer classes until he received his BS, MS, and EDS. He became principal/teacher at Reece, Climax, Haviland. He moved to Jefferson School in El Dorado in 1962 and he became principal at Lincoln School during the last three years before his retirement in 1988. He continued working for USD 490 as Audiovisual maintenance and “fixer” person until 2003.
He was named Kansas Elementary Principal of the Year in 1986, National Distinguished Principal in 1986, and was inducted in the Kansas Teachers’ Hall of Fame in 1996. He was very proud that he and Helen were the first couple in the Kansas Teachers’ Hall of Fame.
His greatest joys were caring for his family, doing volunteer work to better the church and community, doing yard work and gardening, traveling, and as he would say, “the best job in town” working with his students and teachers.
Present memberships include: Elder of First Presbyterian Church, Lifetime Member NEA, Charter and Continuing Member of El Dorado Senior Ambassadors, 59 year 32nd Degree Mason at Climax Lodge #411.
Survivors include: Helen, his loving wife of 67 years, 9 months; daughter, Karen Gruver, El Dorado; sons, Kent Wagner (Julia), Jacksonville, Fla., and Kirk Wagner (Doris), Wichita;. grandchildren,  Kenneth Wagner II, Louisiana, Kyle Wagner, California, Jennifer Chasak (Brian) Spring Hill, Kan., Laura Wagner (Paul Hedrick) Santa Fe, NM, Megan Smith (Eric), Haysville, and Derek Swope, Wichita; great grandchildren,  McKaelynn, Karsten, Sophia, Madaline, Coban.
He was preceded in death by his mother and stepfather Mary and Herman Spade, father, John G. Wagner, and brothers John O. Wagner and Floyd Dale Wagner.
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