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Barbara Jane Wagner, former Weston first selectman, dies at 85

weston-wagner-barbara-obit

Barbara Wagner

Barbara Jane Wagner, a former Weston first selectman and longtime resident of Weston, died at her home on Nov. 21, 2012, after a brief illness. She was 85 years old.

Born in New York in 1927, and raised in Riverdale, N.Y., Ms. Wagner graduated from the High School of Music and Art, and then attended Finch Junior College.

She met her husband, Walter Wagner, in New York, and they married in 1952.

After a brief stint in Chicago, the couple moved to Weston in 1955. Ms. Wagner lived in the same house for 57 years. The Wagners raised four children there, all of whom attended the Weston public schools from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Ms. Wagner’s love of Weston was evident in many ways over her lifetime. Most notably, she served as first selectman of Weston from 1973-75, and her election marked the first time in the history of the state of Connecticut that a woman was elected to lead town government as mayor or first selectman. Her election came after a campaign characterized by the slogan, “Time for Weston, Time for You,” and a promise to be a “full-time selectman,” acknowledging the growing population of the town and the growing complexities of running its government.

Her commitment to access and transparency was symbolized by her establishment of the “Weston Hotline” directly into her home, and an invitation to all Westonites that they call any time with concerns or ideas.

Ms. Wagner created the town’s first police department, and became its first Chief of Police. She also worked in various positions in the town hall and was a longtime board member of the Aspetuck Land Trust.

She was a very active volunteer for political, charitable and other organizations. She was a member and staunch supporter of the Westport Community Theater, producing many shows over the years, and occasionally appearing on stage. She worked for years at the Westport Homeless Shelter. Most recently, Ms. Wagner enjoyed working with the Westport Women’s Club, and serving in the Altar Guild at Christ and Holy Trinity Church in Westport.

For the last several years, she could be found nearly every weekday morning at Oscar’s Deli in Westport for coffee and breakfast, with the same group of Westport Y friends.

Ms. Wagner was predeceased by her husband, Walter Wagner, and is survived by her four children: Jonathan Wagner of Weston; Jennifer Wagner-Lawlor of State College, Pa.; Daniel Wagner of Lubec, Maine; and Margaret Wagner of London, England; and her four grandchildren, Stephen, Dylan and Colin Wagner, and Jonathan Lawlor.

The family will be holding an open house on Sunday, Dec. 2, from noon to 4 at 131 Goodhill Road in Weston. Please note that parking will be a challenge. For more information email the family at bwagnermemorial@gmail.com.

Donations may be made in her memory to The Connecticut Humane Society.

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