JOHNSTON TOWNSHIP, Ohio (MyValleyTributes) – Gary Louis Wagner, 75, of Johnston Township, passed away at home surrounded by family on Saturday, April 30, 2022.

Gary was born July 4, 1946, in Butler, Pennsylvania and was a 1964 graduate of Butler Senior High School.

He was preceded in death by his parents,

Louis and Helen (Custer) Wagner, is survived by his loving wife of 51 years, Esterina (DeDominicis) Wagner; two sons, Adam Wagner (Karina) of Albuquerque, New Mexico and Eric Wagner (Neva) of Clermont, Florida and his brother, David Wagner (Barbara) of Butler, Pennsylvani. He is also survived by Esterina’s brothers, Fred (Darlene) DeDominicis of New Castle, Pennsylvania and Orlando (Gina) DeDominicis of Volant, Pennsylvania; his seven grandchildren, who called him “Grampy,” were the light of his life, Adam’s children, Owen and Ada in Albuquerque, New Mexico and Eric’s children Lauren, Lucas, Alaina, Benjamin and Josie in Clermont, Florida.

Upon graduation from high school Gary enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and completed Basic Military Training at Lackland AFB, San Antonio, Texas in October 1964. He attended Technical Training School as an Airframe Repairman Specialist at Amarillo AFB, Texas. After graduation from technical school, he was assigned to Schilling AFB, Kansas, working on KC-97 and B-47 aircraft with the 310th Bomber Wing. In June 1965, he was transferred to the 305th Bomb Wing at Grissom AFG, Indiana (known at that time as Bunker Hill AFB). There he worked on KC-135 and B-58 aircraft. On July 4, 1966, he was sent overseas for a one-year tour with the 432nd CSG at Udorn AFB, Thailand during the Vietnam War. While at Udorn, he worked a variety of aircraft including WC-121, F-101, F-104, RF-4, F-4, A-1E, T-28, HH-43 and many transient aircraft. He also worked part-time for Air America on C-123 and C-47 aircraft. Upon return to the states, he was honorably discharged at Travis AFB, California on July 4, 1968.

After receiving his honorable discharge from active duty, Gary attended the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics from September 1968 to July 1970, where he received an Associate’s Degree in Specialized Technology and an FAA Airframe and Powerplant license. After graduating he took a job with Pullman Standard Railroad Manufacturing Company as a welder. Shortly thereafter, he accepted a job at the Butler Aviation Company, Butler PA, as an Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic. On December 17, 1972, he left Butler Aviation for an Air Reserve Technician position with the 910th Special Operations Group, Air Force Reserve Base, Youngstown, Ohio.

Gary started his Air Reserve Technician career as a member of the 910th Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadron working in the Sheet Metal Shop on A-37B Dragonfly aircraft. The 910th converted to C-130B aircraft during the summer of 1980. At this time, Gary was promoted to Structural Repair Supervisor where he remained for the next four years and was promoted to Fabrication Branch Chief in April 1985. Including his 4 years of USAF Active-Duty service and 28.5 years at the Youngstown Air Reserve Base, Gary served a total of 31.5 years for the US Military, retiring with the rank of Chief Master Sergeant in July of 2001.

Gary was a long-time member of the Johnston United Methodist Church (now Living Water) in Johnston Township, Ohio. He was a lifetime member of Johnston V.F.W., Post 7614 and had been a volunteer fireman with the Johnston Township Fire Department.

He could fix anything and never had to call a repairman! Gary loved Pontiac GTO’s and restored three to perfection, winning several trophies at National GTOAA National Conventions, and was later asked to be a Judge for 1964 GTO class for the national competition. Gary was known by many as “GTO Gary”. He also had a love for horns and installed twin truck air horns on several of his vehicles as well as an antique Aooga horn and cow bell.

Family camping was a big part of Gary’s life, traveling the United States including a month in Alaska and a month in beautiful Nova Scotia, Canada. He was diagnosed with Non-Hodgins Lymphoma in 2002 and later Amyloidosis, but he still continued to travel with the Fifth Wheel RV when possible, making many wonderful memories over the years in spite of his illness. He was diagnosed with ALS in February of 2021.
No funeral service or calling hours are planned and a Celebration of Life and Military Honors will be held at a later date.

Gary’s family would like to thank all family members for their caring support; treasured friend Arlene Boozer for her valuable advice and constant loving support throughout this ALS journey; his Affinity Care Hospice Nurse, Brittany Thomas and Hospice Aide, Sabrina, for their kindness and compassion during his final months and the outstanding support offered by the ALS medical team at the Cleveland VA Medical Center, Wade Park.

The family requests that material contributions in memory of Gary be made to any of the following: Living Water United Methodist Church, 6262 Youngstown Kingsville Road, Farmdale, OH 44417; Paralyzed Veterans of America, ALS, Buckeye Chapter 2775 Bishop Road, Suite B, Willoughby Hills, OH 44092; or The Johnston Civic Club, c/o Joyce Barzak, 102 Tournament Trail, Cortland, OH 44410. 

Arrangements handled by Lane Family Funeral Homes.

To send flowers to the family of Gary , please visit our floral store.

A television tribute will air Wednesday, May 4 at the following approximate times: 5:17 a.m. on WKBN, 8:39 a.m. on FOX, 5:21 p.m. on WYTV and 6:35 p.m. on MyYTV.