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Robert Mark Wagner (Mark) passed away on September 2nd, 2023, at the age of 68 at his home in Tucson, Arizona, surrounded by his family, following a brief illness.
It is impossible to summarize such a full life in a few paragraphs. Mark was born on August 26th, 1955 in Bellevue, Ohio to Joanna Marie (Ley) Wagner and Robert Clair Wagner. Mark grew up helping out on the family farm and in the family business, and he showed a great interest in telescopes and astronomy from an early age, an interest which his parents encouraged and nurtured. He participated in Boy Scouts and science fairs and won numerous awards and honors. He graduated from Bellevue High School in 1973.
Mark received a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from the University of Arizona in 1977 and a PhD in Astronomy from the Ohio State University in 1983. He met his wife, Wanda, while at Ohio State. The couple married on June 18, 1983, in Columbus, Ohio and moved to Arizona later that year. Their first child, a daughter, was born in 1984, followed by a son in 1989, and a son in 1993.
Mark’s early work in astronomy centered on the study of black holes and white dwarfs. As a postdoctoral researcher, Mark worked in the Halley Watch project at Arizona State University when Halley’s Comet passed within view of the Earth in 1986. Mark then went to work with Ohio State at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, where he spent many nights observing at the Perkins Telescope and was heavily involved in the operations of the MDM Observatory in southern Arizona. In 1998, the family moved to Tucson, Arizona when Mark began work on the Large Binocular Telescope Observatory (LBTO). He was with the project from its earliest phases and saw it develop from concept to construction to a fully operational observatory. Telescopes and science were his passion. Mark worked with LBTO for the remainder of his life, attending numerous conferences around the world and publishing papers and posters with his colleagues. Recently, Mark and his colleagues discovered a nova that declined the fastest ever observed and were deep in research on lithium production and light echos from novae.
Mark retained his interest in farming and was always keen to remain abreast of the latest status of the farms in Ohio. He was also passionate about military history, particularly the naval history of World War II. And baseball - Mark was a walking encyclopedia of knowledge about the game and he and Wanda were avid fans of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Cleveland Guardians (Indians).
Most of all, Mark loved being with his family. His personal telescope often came out on clear nights and the family would often find themselves looking at comets, meteor showers, the Moon and rings of Saturn. He loved talking to his grandchildren about the stars and reading them astronomy children’s books. He and Wanda unwaveringly supported their children through all their endeavors, including a total of seven military deployments between all three. Mark was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, cousin, colleague, and friend and will be dearly missed by all those who were blessed to have him in their lives.
Mark is survived by his wife of 40 years, Wanda Corbet Wagner, three children, Megan, Phillip (Jessica), and Andrew (Brandi); and two granddaughters, Hadley and Olivia, the daughters of Phillip and Jessica. He is also survived by his siblings, Diane (John) Hiratsuka, Richard Wagner (Susan Manos), and Gail (Harry) Coe, as well as numerous cousins, nephews, and nieces. He is preceded in death by his parents and grandparents.
Visitation will be held on Thursday, September 14th from 5:00-7:00 P.M. at Foos and Foos Funeral Home, 151 Yorkshire Pl., Bellevue Ohio. The funeral will be held at Foos and Foos Funeral Home on Friday, September 15th, 2023 at 11:00 A.M., followed by burial. Mark will be laid to rest at York Free Chapel Cemetery in Bellevue, Ohio.
A Celebration of Life will be held on Friday, September 22nd, 2023 at 11:00 A.M. at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, 1431 W. Magee Rd., Tucson, Arizona, followed by a reception.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Bellevue High School Alumni Association, the Bellevue Historical Society, Lowell Observatory, or the Wounded Warrior Project.
Stars, by Sara Teasdale
Alone in the night
On a dark hill
With pines around me
Spicy and still,
And a heaven full of stars
Over my head,
White and topaz
And misty red -
Myriads with beating
Hearts of fire
Cannot vex or tire -
Up the dome of heaven
Like a great hill,
I watch them marching
Stately and still;
I know that I am honored to be
Witness of so much majesty.
Bellevue High School Alumni Association
PO Box 191, Bellevue OH 44811
Bellevue Historical Society
PO Box 34, Bellevue OH 44811
Wounded Warrior Project
7020 A.C. Skinner Parkway, Suite 100, Jacksonville FL 32256
1400 W Mars Hill Rd, Flagstaff AZ 86001