Howard L. Wagner, who parlayed his family’s small filling station into the largest Shell Oil distributor in Wisconsin, died Sunday, August 16, 2020 at Aspirus Wausau Hospital. He was 83 years old.
Howard, known by his friends as Howie, was an exceptional community supporter and philanthropist, supporting causes large and small across the Northwoods
He was born Sept. 30, 1936 in Wittenberg to the late Harvey E. and Nell (James) Wagner. His father operated a small filling station, Harvey’s Citgo, where he began working at a young age, never realizing at the time the successes that were in the future.
He continued working at the station after he graduated from Antigo High School in 1954. With an eye for the future, he purchased the station from his father and ran it for several years, forming Wagner Oil Company in 1972.
Howie went on to partner with Shell Oil Company. He grew the company over the years, building Shell convenience stores and adding new customer locations to the Shell brand. Wagner Oil became the largest Shell distributor in the state of Wisconsin under his guidance. Today the company operates 17 stores and supplies 50 other locations.
Wagner Shell, through the brainstorming of Howie, became home to “Wacky Wednesdays,” a favorite with customers across Wisconsin today.
Howie along with his father, also owned and operated Wagner Enterprises, an Arctic Cat and boat dealership. The company was formed in 1968 and was later purchased and operated by Howie’s son, David.
Howie was a member of Antigo Elks Club and Jaycees.
Howie lived by the “work hard play hard” rule. He was loved by everyone and the love was reflected back to his friends, family and community in his kindness and generosity. Throughout the years, he mentored many young workers in their first jobs, many of them going on to be very successful.
Committed to the communities that he was a part of through his business locations, Howie was generous in supporting numerous benefits and organizations, some of which include Northcentral Technical College, Boys and Girls Club, Langlade County Historical Society, Muscular Dystrophy Association, Antigo Baseball Association, Gridiron Club, Red Robin Golf Club, Center Court Club, Aspirus Langlade Hospital, Darwin E. Smith Aquatic Center and Clara McKenna Aquatic Center.
He was a sponsor for area sports teams, Wagner Oil, Antigo Cardinals and Wagner Shell Old Timers team. Howie loved the games and hanging out with the guys afterwards.
He loved attending Bucks, Brewers and Packers games and especially enjoyed bringing friends along to enjoy the games together. Pontooning with friends and family was another source of great fun.
His partner through his adventurous life was Melissa (Yaeger), whom he married on Nov. 11, 2000.
In addition to his wife, Melissa, Howie is survived by his sons, David (Anne) Wagner of Antigo and John (Vickie) Wagner of Antigo; daughter, Meghan (Ronnie) Knitter of Wittenberg; grandchildren, Emily (Elishah) Schroeder, Whitney (Dan) Woods, Andrew (Brian Stoudemire) Wagner, Joel, Casey (Sydney) and Austin (Kaylee) Wagner, Dominick, Henry, Oliver, Charlotte and Finn Knitter and Jeremy Walters; seven great grandchildren; sisters; Barb (Terry) Mcdougall of Eau Claire and Betty Wagner of Oconto; a brother, David Wagner of Florida; his mother-in-law, Dorothy Yaeger of Wittenberg; and his former wife, Renie Wagner of Antigo.
Other survivors include Melissa’s family; Mary (Tim) Dorin of Menasha, Catherine Yaeger of Schofield, Peggy (Gene) Gretzlock of Hatley, Polly (Scott) Zyduck of Hatley,
Julie (Dan) Stewart of Bevent, Amy Radtke of Marion, John (Patty) Yaeger of Maple Grove, Minn. , Joel Yaeger of Wittenberg, Peter (Leslie) Yaeger of Waukesha, Paul (Cindy) Yaeger of Wittenberg, Matthew Yaeger of Wittenberg and many nieces and nephews.
He was proceeded in death by father-in-law John Yaeger, and sisters-in-law, Laura Yaeger, and Barbie Wagner.
Visitation will be held on Wednesday from 5 until 9 p.m. at St. John Catholic Church in Hoffmann Hall and on Thursday from 9 a.m. until the service at St. John Catholic Church.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be Thursday at 10:30 a.m. at St. John Catholic Church. Father James Baraniak will officiate. Interment will be in Elmwood Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Howard Wagner Red Robin Memorial Scholarship.
Strasser-Roller Funeral Home has been entrusted with his care.
In an effort to keep all in attendance safe and well, social distancing and masks are encouraged.
Friends may visit online at strasserrollerfuneralhome.com.