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Wagner, Phil

d. May 24, 2010

Phil Wagner, age 79, of Springfield, passed away on Wednesday, May 19, 2010.

He is survived by his

Special Companion : Ann L. Smith Children : Phillip J. Wagner (wife, Nancy (Kaplan)), Mary F. (Wagner) Keldermans (husband, Steven Keldermans), Theresa M. (Wagner) Fahey, Thomas J. Wagner (wife, Lisa Moscoso), Robert J. Wagner (wife, Ann Velasco), Michael J. Wagner (wife, Ellen (Biggs)) and Daniel J. Wagner (wife, Lisa (Thompson)). Grandchildren – Jill Wagner, Matt Wagner, Sarah Wagner, Katie (Keldermans) Tierney, Chris Keldermans, Anne Keldermans, Jonathan Keldermans, Claire (Keldermans) Kramer, Phil Keldermans, Lindsay (Fahey) Smith, Joel Fahey, Annalise Wagner, John Harry Wagner, Lizzie Wagner, Daniel Wagner, Luke Wagner, Alex Wagner, Becca Wagner, John Wagner, Michael Wagner, Annie Wagner, and Danny Wagner. Great-grandchild : Oliver Tierney.

Phil was born at St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, Illinois, the son of the late Harry and Frances (Wasilewski) Wagner of Athens, Illinois. He was preceded in death by his brother Jack Wagner of Nogales Arizona.

Phil was a graduate of Athens High School, 1948, Springfield Junior College, A.A., 1952, and the University of Illinois-Champaign, B.S.B.A., 1954. Phil was the founder and owner of several family businesses, including Wagner Office Systems, Office Coffee and Merchant Service Co-op in Springfield. He was the publisher of several books about the life of Abraham Lincoln (Abraham Lincoln: the Boy, the Man and Cliff Hangers and Down to Earth Sayings by Abraham Lincoln and Other Common Folk) and founded a museum that celebrated Lincoln’s successful effort to establish Springfield as the Illinois State Capitol (the Long Nine Museum in Athens). Phil also promoted a wide variety of public service projects over the years, including the designation and bicentennial celebration of the Lincoln Post Road between New Salem and Springfield (1976); the founding of Athens Community Park and supporting the Athens Public Library.

Throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s, Phil earned a national reputation as a dealer in cash registers, office furniture and filing systems. He invented and manufactured the rolling posting tray for side files. For years Phil and his company, Office Coffee, supplied coffee and cold drinks for all Illinois rest-stops during the summer holidays.

Phil was a U.S. Air Force Veteran, Korean War, and member of Post 32, American Legion and Life Member of the American G.I. Forum : Hispanic American Veterans. He was a Silver Life Master in the American Contract Bridge League of North America.

Visitation will be held from 3:00 until time of funeral mass at 7:00 PM on Monday, May 24, 2010 at the Holy Family Church in Athens. Mott & Henning Funeral Home assisted the family with the arrangements. Memorials can be made to the Athens Library “Heritage Section”


  1. Phil and I have been friends since 1987 through our involvement together in The American Legion at Springfield Post 32. Phil and I chatted often, had a drink together occasionally and I truly enjoyed conversing and working with him on several projects that benefited not only the veteran, but the community. I will truly miss our talks, his always positive attitude and him always telling me that I was “looking good”. Phil may be gone but he will never be forgotten. My condolences to Ann and his family.

    Mike Walton

  2. To the Wagner Family. I offer my sincere condolences on the loss of Phil. I had the pleasure of meeting and working with Phil during the starting of the Athens Community Park, as I was the first park manager. He was truly one of the nicest people I have ever met. His tremendous business savy was definetly an asset to our community when starting the park. He never forgot who you were, even if you wouldn’t see him for years. The picture in the obituary is a great reminder of who he was….always smiling and offering a kind word. What a wonderful world this would be if we had more people like Phil. I am thankful for all he did for our community. We have lost a truly classy gentleman. Donald R. Porter

  3. I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Phil was such a wonderful person. He always treated me so well, almost like a father. He would always say that we were the only Wagner-Wasilewski left. I will miss him, and wish I’d had the chance to tell him that. God bless you and your family. “They are not gone who live in the hearts of others.” Vikki (Wagner-Wasilewski) Challoner (John R. Wasilewski’s daughter)

  4. To the Wagner Family:

    My brother Jim emailed me about the passing of your dad. I did get to have some fun times with him. I even ran into him, within the last 10 years, at restaurants I attended for meetings, when I was in town. I loved hearing him laugh and kidding that Tom and I would marry one day (and that was when we were in 5th grade!!) Your Dad and your Mom did a great job raising all of you! I wanted to write some words of encouragement…… 1) Don’t morn his death…..celebrate his life! (He had a great one) 2)Think of him as moving into the last home he will ever want…..heaven! And last but not least 3) You ‘thought’ he knew what you were doing as a kid but now he will always KNOW what you are doing NOW. (You know how “They know everything” well now he really does and always will!!!!!! Talk to him daily; he really does have ALL the answers now. With Love, Colleen (Clancy) Aeppli

  5. Dear Dan and the entire Wagner Family,

    Please accept my most sincere condolences on the passing of your father. May you find comfort in the memories that you shared.

    Sincerely, Genie Birch

  6. Many condolences — from one of your Fuhrman cousins — to the entire Wagner family on the death of your father / grandfather. To know Phil was, among other things, to enjoy good laughs and pleasant conversation whenever you met him.

    My thoughts are with all of you at this time.


  7. It wasn’t easy to give Phil a compliment. He seemed uncomfortable with it and would immediately turn the compliment back on you! He was an extraordinary man who lived a long, exciting life. He’s remembered most for the way he’d greet stranger and friend alike: “You’re looking good!” Another motivating phrase he’d use on us helping to promote his many campaigns was the reminder: “You’re making history!” and, it made us feel we were doing just that, making history. A few years back, Phil visited me for a week at Amelia Island, Florida. I discovered then that Phil had a “black belt” (Phil’s words) in Contact Bridge. His goal was to offer himself as a bridge instructor on a cruise ship. In turn, he hoped, for a free cruise. The subject never came up again as time passed. I hope he made it. I will miss Phil. He will not be forgotten. My sincere condolences to his family and loved ones.

  8. I offer my family’s prayers and condolences to the Wagner family. My father, Paul, is a year younger than Phil and fondly remembers playing catch with his cousin. Paul also named Phil Wagner as my Godfather in 1953 and my youngest brother is named Phil, after him as well. Paul loved Phil dearly. We still talk about the family reunion Phil organized in 1988. We all had so much fun and will always picture Phil with a smile on his face. For me personally, Phil reminded me of my Grandfather, Joe Wasilewski. He had very similar good looks, same hair and mustache, and a gregarious personality, reflections of happier times in the Wasilewski family. I felt priviledged to be connected to him. I’m sorry to miss the funeral mass and celebration of his life. I can imagine the stories that will be told. May God grant you peace and comfort through this time and reassurance of the promises of the Lord Jesus Christ. Love to you all…………….. Mike & Rose Wasilewski

  9. In Memory of Phil Wagner, the Dreamer and Doer.

    Phil never forgot his roots. He wanted the best for his home town, Athens, Il. In the early 1970’s he, along with interested Athenians, envisioned a city library for his home town. When there was no longer room for a beginning library in the local fire station, Phil found a home for us in an empty store front on Main Street. He furnished it from his stock and the library was a reality. From then on Phil contributed local history articles to the Special Collections Room. Athens Municipal Library is now a state-of-the-art thriving library across from Athens Community Schools. Thank-you, Phil, for your leadership and devotion to making the dream library a reality for your home town. Betty Canterbury, a thankful library volunteer and friend

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