CHESTERTOWN, MD -- John Wagner '74 has announced he will retire from his post as Washington College's Waterfront Director - a position he has held for three decades - at the end of the fiscal year (June 30, 2013).
Wagner's legacy at the College is wholly intertwined with the history of the Waterfront and of its rowing and sailing programs. As a student, Wagner was a coxswain for the men's rowing team while the program was in its infancy. He later went on to serve as a rowing coach from 1979 to 1987. He was named the College's Waterfront Director in 1983 and his impact in that role has been as broad as it has been varied.
"It is hard to imagine the Washington College Waterfront without John Wagner," notes Director of Athletics Dr. Bryan Matthews '75. John has literally built and managed the entire waterfront presence and program that we have become accustomed to. For over thirty years, John has given his heart and soul to ensuring that students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the folks of Chestertown have enjoyed safe, successful, and pleasant experiences at the Colleges' waterfront. He has made sure that multitudes of varsity athletes were able to compete at the highest level and enjoy outstanding equipment and facilities. We will sorely miss John, not only as a tremendous Waterfront Director but also as one of the true Washington College icons."
In addition to raising funds for countless boats and other items for use by the College community, Wagner physically built much of the existing Waterfront facility, including the docks. The College's varsity sailing program - annually among the best in the nation - owes its very existence to his efforts. The birth of the program was spearheaded by Wagner and was initially funded solely through the boat donation program. His influence on the men's and women's rowing programs have helped those teams achieve NCAA and IRA National Championship appearances. Through his management of both the Waterfront and the Lelia Hynson Pavilion, use of which the College shares with the town of Chestertown, he has facilitated many campus and community events.
A varsity crew shell was named in Wagner's honor in March 2010 and he received a Distinguished Service Award from the College in February 2011. Wagner was inducted into Washington College's Athletic Hall of Fame last October.
"I've felt that I've had the perfect job for me. I get up in the morning every day and I don't go to work - I just go to the boat house," reflects Wagner. At 62, Wagner looks forward to traveling and spending more time with his recently retired wife Carol and seven-year-old granddaughter. Still, he plans to stay involved in the Waterfront as a volunteer.
"It's sort of like trading in a child for a grandchild," he explains. "I want all the fun parts of the Waterfront, but not all the 'un-fun' parts."