Cover photo for Michael E. Wagner's Obituary
Michael E. Wagner Profile Photo
1946 Michael 2020

Michael E. Wagner

November 8, 1946 — December 20, 2020

Michael Emil Wagner, 74, of Punta Gorda, Florida passed away suddenly from a heart attack on December 20, 2020.  Born November 8, 1946, he was raised in New Hampshire and while he attended 12 years of Catholic school, he was really a member of the church of the great outdoors. He joined the U.S. Army in 1968 and after serving a 3-year term, the last year in South Korea; he was honorably discharged to the rank of Sergeant.  He attended the University of Colorado and then lived in several places in California including Los Angeles, San Francisco, and South Lake Tahoe. Throughout the years, he tried his hand at a variety of careers: apartment manager, railroad freight claims, sporting goods and gun sales, ski shop manager, Pier One manager, Scandinavian furniture manager, and drivers' license examiner.  The stress of giving driving tests contributed to his first heart attack and caused him to retire early. 

Mike loved the mountains and the outdoors.  He was an avid hunter and fly fisherman. What probably best describes Mike the best is what Denver Post Outdoor Editor, Charlie Meyers, wrote on September 6, 2000: "Mike Wagner, who amazingly in the 12 months since we have seen him last has not forgotten how to miss a shot as he revisits this popular theme of progression.   'It’s the beginning of hunting: first doves, then ducks, deer, elk, geese, and pheasants.  It starts here and then sort of snowballs' Wagner said in anticipation of an autumn that, of his early marksmanship, promises to be exceptional."  Mike had a black Labrador named Boots.  She was so well trained she could differentiate between a rifle and a shotgun. When he pulled a shotgun out of his gun safe, Boots literally went berserk knowing she would be bird hunting that day. 

In 1989 at age 42, Michael took a big leap moving from Lake Tahoe to Denver, CO to marry the love of his life, Stella Alexis, in a “Big Fat Greek Wedding” in Camp Hill, PA.  He loved being part of Stella's crazy extended Greek family who welcomed him with open arms as they all spoke at once. He was especially fond of Stella's first cousin, Joanne Alexis of Naples, FL but was never particularly excited when lamb was being served. As most of you know, he was a meat and potatoes man and tried hard not to deviate from his food choices. 

After a honeymoon in Barbados, the couple settled in Denver where he introduced Stella to the great outdoors.  They enjoyed many years of downhill skiing, traveling, camping, and fishing in the Rocky Mountains.  In 2011, they retired to New Castle, CO - the beloved mountain town that Mike would call home for the next seven years.  In 2018 they moved to Punta Gorda, Florida where he then pursued saltwater fishing, but Mike’s heart was always with his beloved Fryingpan River, outside Aspen, CO.  He spent many hours fishing the "Pan" as it is called.  He especially loved catching and releasing trout on a fly he had tied.  It was his greatest passion and the most difficult thing to leave behind when he moved to Florida for health reasons. Stella's mother never caught on to "catch and release", and kept wondering when he was actually going to bring home some fish home to eat.  Actually, Stella never understood it either. Ah, those Greeks! 

Mike was preceded in death by his parents Edward G. and Lillian Agnes Wagner and brothers, Paul Oren and Edward Joseph.  He is survived by his loving wife and best friend Stella Alexis, his brother Carl (Amanda) Murfreesboro, TN, his nephew Eric Wagner (Pamela) Palo Alto, CA, his nieces Lisa (Richard) Manglona and Angel MacGregor, and several great-nieces and nephews.  He will be sorely missed by his good friends, hunting and fishing buddies Dan Whalen, Don Martin, Oly Welke, and Marti Olavarri, and many other friends he made in Lake Tahoe, CA, Denver, CO,  New Castle, CO, and Punta Gorda, FL. 

The family has entrusted Johnson-Taylor Funeral Home of Punta Gorda with his cremation.  To express condolences to the family and share in celebrating the life of Michael, please visit www.JohnsonTaylorFuneral.com and sign the online guest book. 

A Celebration of Life will be held at 3:00 pm on Saturday, January 2, 2021, at the Johnson-Taylor Funeral Chapel in Punta Gorda, FL. 

In lieu of flowers, Mike would prefer donations be made to the Roaring Fork Conservancy, 22800 Two Rivers Rd, Basalt, CO 81621 (http://www.roaringfork.org/) or that you will do an unexpected and unsolicited act of kindness for some poor unfortunate soul in his name.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Michael E. Wagner, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Saturday, January 2, 2021

3:00 - 4:00 pm (Eastern time)

Johnson-Taylor Funeral & Cremation

1515 Tamiami Trail, Punta Gorda, FL 33950

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