Walter Price Wagoner died peacefully on July 27, 2014, at his home on Oak Road in Salisbury. Walt was born in Salisbury on August 27, 1917, the son of the late Edward Walter Wagoner and Pearl Price Daniel Wagoner. His beloved wife and companion of sixty-eight years, Evelyn Albright Wagoner, predeceased him. He was also predeceased by two older brothers, Hubert Edward Wagoner and Kenneth Lester Wagoner.
Walt was raised in Salisbury, graduating from Boyden High School at the top of his class. He graduated in 1938 from The Citadel, The Military College of SC, in Charleston. He distinguished himself while there, in the military disciplines and engineering, including command of the honorific Summerall Guards. He graduated with highest honors and as Lt. Colonel of the Corps. He received a commission of Second Lt. in the U.S. Army. He received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, joining a small group of national scholars. He was a proud member of the Gold Corps. The events at Pearl Harbor resulted in his quick return to active military service, lasting until January 1946. Of note is his unusual, for that time, leadership in the formation of, and training command, of an all-black infantry regiment. Prior to the conclusion of the war, he was assigned to Camp Roberts, California, training infantry and preparing for the invasion of mainland Japan. He was discharged as a Major into the post-war Reserves.
After the war, he returned to Salisbury, working with his brothers and father in E.W. Wagoner and Sons Construction Co. Shortly afterward, the sons acquired the company from their father, forming Wagoner Construction Co., Inc., as well as numerous other companies specializing in the concrete and steel fabrication industries. Noted first for quality, and for an aggressive attention to clients’ needs, their company branched to work from Pennsylvania to Florida, and specialized in hotel development and construction. They built the first Wachovia Bank outside of Winston-Salem, and one of the first ten Holiday Inns in the world. They were fortunate to help design and build the first Food Town (Lion) store and warehouse. Walt retired in 2006, as President, but continued to work in the office every day until a few months before his death.
Walt’s professional and community career was expansive and far-reaching. He was a professional engineer, and member of the national engineering society, Tau Beta Pi. He was Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, leading the development of a new office and the recruitment of Fiber Industries. He was a member of Haven Lutheran Church where he led the Council many years and taught a Sunday class for over sixty-five years, which was named in his honor. Then he became a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church. He was the first Chairman of the Salisbury Planning Board, as it initiated land use and zoning within the City. He enjoyed his Rotary Club colleagues and was a Paul Harris Fellow. He served as a board member of Security Bank and Trust, and led its expansion with the construction of many offices. He was a member of the local team which pushed for the creation of Rowan Tech (RCCC), in response to the need for aggressive economic development for Rowan citizens, and became a founding board member. One of his finest community efforts was serving as Chair of several development efforts for Catawba College, which honored him with an Honorary Doctor of Business Administration degree. And, he was named Salisbury Man of the Year.
He is survived by his daughter, Sandra Wagoner Tiller Harjes of Mt. Pleasant, S.C., and his son, Edward William Wagoner and wife, Anna Mills Wagoner of Salisbury; five grandchildren, Harry Corbett Tiller III and wife, Ellie; Walter Gray Tiller and wife, Heather; Anna Gregory Wagoner Taylor and husband, Phil; Elizabeth Blair Tiller and husband, Nathan Haugaard; and, Walter Price Wagoner II and wife, Jillian; and eight great-grandchildren, Walter Gray Tiller, Jr., Susan Evelyn Gray Tiller, Hila Hastings Tiller, Tiller Rain Haugaard, William Cooper Wagoner, Rivers Price Haugaard, Elizabeth Albright Tiller and Harry Corbett Tiller IV. Also surviving are his brother, Ralph Daniel Wagoner, and sister, Kathryn Wagoner Terry.
He expressed, as does his family, very deep gratitude for those who gave special care: Jennie, Brian, Tracy, Miriam, Michele and Beverly in his home; Robin and her colleagues at Lutheran Services Rehab; Doctors Myron Goodman and Telly Meadows; Sheri of Hospice and Palliative Care of Rowan, and to Jennie, Brian, Miriam, Cyndi and Eric at the telemetry floor of Novant Health Rowan Medical Center.
A celebration of his life will be held Wednesday, July 30, 2014, at 2:00 PM in St. John’s Lutheran Church. A private interment will precede the service. The family will visit with friends in the church fellowship hall immediately following the service.
For those who wish to do so, memorials may be made to Lutheran Services for the Aging at Trinity Oaks, 820 Klumac Rd, Salisbury, NC 28144 and to the Hospice House fund of Hospice and Palliative Care of Rowan, 720 Grove St. Salisbury, NC 28144.
Summersett Funeral Home is assisting Mr. Wagoner’s family. Online condolences may be made at www.summersettfuneralhome.com.
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