Norma J. Wagar (nee Frederick) was born on August 21, 1936 and passed away surrounded by love and family on September 26, 2020. She was predeceased by her parents William and Cleo Frederick, sisters Jo Gunther and Billie Hooper, and her beloved husband Tom.
Mom grew up in Owosso Michigan with her family and met her husband Tom in high school. They married in 1954 and their four children Julie, Bill, Kathy and Michael quickly followed. Mom and Dad settled in Kent to raise their family in the early 1960s. Family life was fun and hectic, and we remember epic family camping vacations with all of us kids hanging out the windows of the family station wagon on our way to the next campsite. Later trips were typically to Edisto Island and Lake Erie with all of the granddaughters joining in the fun. In those early years Mom worked at Kroger and found she enjoyed having a job in addition to raising a family. She and dad were early advocates for the developmentally disabled having a child with special needs. They along with so many other young parents really helped build the foundation for services in Portage County as they fought and advocated for their kids.
As the kids grew up and began to leave home Mom decided to go to college. She was an excellent student and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Kent State University 1981. Her degree was in Criminal Justice studies, no surprise to any of us kids knowing what we were like to raise!
Following college Mom had a career as a paralegal working many years for the law firm of Buckingham Doolittle and Burroughs. She thoroughly enjoyed her work assisting in trial preparation and as she said “keeping the lawyers from messing up my files!”
Mom remained a fierce advocate for the developmentally disabled her whole life, and was very active in Kathy’s Special Olympics training and meets. To say she was a champion cheerleader is an understatement. We never had to look for Mom in any stadium, we could hear her cheering from every section! She was adamant that cheering was required until the last athlete crossed the finish line no matter what event she was watching. She was so proud to see Kathy compete in local, state, National, and International Special Olympics events. We think Mom embraced the Special Olympics oath as her guide in life. “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt”. During her later years Mom served as a volunteer Trustee on the Residential Resources for the Developmentally Challenged Board. This was work that she and Dad helped with early on that established independent living resources for adults with developmental disabilities.
Mom’s advocacy and determination to stand up for her beliefs carried over to other areas of her life. She supported many causes for social justice. Mom participated in her first protest march at age 80 when she rode a bus to Washington DC with her daughter Julie and friends to join in the Women’s March the day after the inauguration. It was a proud moment to watch her join in with other protesters who cleared the way for her and her rollator!
Mom’s real love and passion was always family. Mom was never happier than when she had a loud, rowdy houseful of family and friends no matter the occasion. She was an amazing cook and no one ever left hungry. Mom was a pie master and her Thanksgiving stuffing is family legend. Sadly the stuffing recipe goes to the great beyond with her as mom never cooked by a recipe, and measuring was not necessary as long as you could see and smell what you’re making. None of us have been able to replicate that stuffing recipe so we will have to remember it fondly!
Mom is survived and will be missed by her four children Julie Wagar, Bill (Monica) Wagar, Kathy Wagar, and Michael (Jennifer) Wagar. She also leaves 5 granddaughters, Jacquelyn Bleak, Jeannette Logan, Jessica Vaughn, Samantha Wagar, and Delaney Wagar as well as great grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
Dad always described Mom as a feisty little redhead. We sure agree with that description and will miss the fire. We know that Dad is so glad to have his first mate back with him, but we also suspect his heavenly fishing trips just got a whole lot noisier!
We want to give a very special thanks to Mom’s aides, Renee Jones who has been with Mom for almost 3 years and helped Mom through so many ups and downs, Kathy Conzen who also cared for Mom with love and compassion, and the staff of Summa Health Hospice who were so wonderful and supportive with all of us in caring for Mom in the final days.
In lieu of flowers we suggest donations to Mom’s favorite organizations and causes: Portage County Special Olympics at the Portage County Board of Developmental Disabilities 2606 Brady Lake Rd, Ravenna Ohio 44266. The Residential Resources at 9604 Elliman Rd, Mantua Oh 44255, and Summa Health Hospice at 141 N. Forge St, Akron Oh 44304.
Calling hours will be held at Bissler and Sons Funeral Home on Friday October 2nd from 10-12. A private family service will follow at the graveside. Due to the pandemic masks and social distance protocols should be followed to insure the health of anyone who would like to attend.
Services in care of Bissler & Sons Funeral Home and Crematory, 628 West Main Street, Kent, OH 44240.
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