Obituary of Carolyn "Jane" Wagner
Carolyn “Jane” Wagner passed away peacefully at Good Shepherd Hospice Care on October 12, 2023 after a gallant fight following multiple surgeries. Jane was born on November 17, 1929 in Lima, Ohio to Elmer DeWitt Campnell and Eunice Stone Campnell, the second of three children. She graduated from Shawnee High School in 1947 and the following year she married James “Jim’ Wagner in Lima, Ohio. On December 29, 1955, Jim’s birthday, Jane and Jim moved to Winter Haven, FL. They had 3 daughters and one son who was born 17 years after their first child. Jane used to boast that they had children living at home for 36 years before their last child left home.
Jane began her goal of receiving a college education in 1961 and completed her bachelor’s degree at the University of South Florida in 1967, a little over a year after the birth of her 4th child. She continued pursuit of higher education, receiving her Master’s Degree in 1971 from USF and her Educational Specialist degree in Administration and Supervision from Florida Atlantic in 1982. Her teaching career began at Lake Elbert Elementary School, teaching Special Education. She continued her devotion to Special Ed by becoming a Curriculum Coordinator for Polk County and at Dundee ESC. She served as the Assistant Principal at Lena Vista Elementary School in Auburndale, FL. She also served as Principal at Lake Elbert Elementary School and completed her education career as Principal at Polk Life and Learning in Bartow, FL. She retired in 1993.
Jane’s life was guided by her faith. She was a charter member of St. John’s United Methodist Church and devoted her time and energy to numerous church activities. She shared her musical talents by singing in the choir for 50 years and serving as an accompanist for Sunday School for 15 years. She was active in United Methodist Women, serving as Vice President, President and was named Outstanding Woman by the organization in 1984. She served as a board member for St. John’s United Methodist Church Preschool.
Jane’s devotion to education was also fulfilled outside the classroom. She was a member of the International Honorary Organization for Women Educators, Alpha Delta Kappa Chapter. She was a founding sister of the Winter Haven Chapter and a member for 44 years, serving as President, Vice President, and Chaplain. She is dearly loved by all her “sisters.” She was also a board member at Brigham Elementary School for several years.
Jane’s greatest love was spending time with her family, hosting family events, attending family reunions in Ohio, and hosting holidays at her home where only china and silver could adorn the table. She was a gifted letter writer, sharing family events and history in her artful letters and cards. She never missed a birthday or special event. Her nieces and nephews were her “children”..
She devoted herself to many other activities.. She was a volunteer at Angel Care Center of Eloise. Her hobby in her later years was making over 1000 stuffed bears and dogs, which were donated to various organizations, including Guardian ad Litem and the Polk County Sheriff’s, office. She was an avid reader, especially of religious and inspirational books. She loved to write poems, including one about herself, titled “Plain Jane.” She also started an autobiography that she never finished because she said she would cry too much.
She is preceded in death by her husband of 44 years, Jim Wagner, her father and mother, Elmer DeWitt Campnell and Eunice Campnell, her brother, Tom Campnell, and her sister, Marty Burtchin.
She is survived by 3 daughters, Sally Wagner, Julie Starling and Cheryl Wagner; and a son, Jay Wagner and his wife, Tammy Wagner; 4 grandchildren, Laura (Jeromie) Johnson, Kent (Megan) Starling, Heather (Josh) Burkmier, and Morgan Fitts; 6 great-grandchildren, Garrett, Kaylie, Emilee, Olivia, Easton and Madison. Her “other” surviving children are Susan (Joe) Donahue, Karen (Dino) Dinocola and Anne Kemple, and multiple nieces and nephews on the Wagner side.
Jane was a friend to all, an inspiration and guiding light to everyone she loved. She maintained life-long friendships with her high school friends. Her life was a service to others through her commitment to her faith and her community. She was a loving matriarch to her family.
Donations in her honor can be made to St. John’s United Methodist Church and Good Shepherd Hospice Care in Auburndale, Florida.
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