Mary Wagoner Honored For 25 Years of Service Upon Her Retirement6 min read

Mary Hassett was born in a farmhouse on Ellsworth Rd in Ypsilanti on April 25, 1945. She was the middle child and has 3 brothers and 3 sisters. She married Barry Wagoner in November of 1963, and together they were blessed with three sons.

In 1990, Wagoner started working at the Michigan District office as a receptionist: “I used to do hair; I owned a beauty shop. Then my friend Cheryl (from Church Extension Fund) told me about the job opening here. During the interview I told Mr. Keith Schoen, Business Manager at the time, ‘I have never touched a computer in my life; never even seen one.’ And he said, ‘That’s OK, then we can train you. As long as you know how to type we can train you to do it our way.’ I said, ‘Fine, if you want to take the risk with me, I’m willing to learn.’”

In a four-and-a-half year span, she went from receptionist to assistant to the Business Manager—while also working with Missions and Evangelism—and then on to work for Christian Care. After that, she started working with Education, overseeing an average of 30 call lists per year and accreditation for 54 schools. She assisted many committees and worked on conferences, workshops, and District Conventions. Wagoner also maintained all of the commissioned and lay teacher records, active and retired, for about 20 years.

George Locke, former Lutheran Schools Superintendent for the Michigan District: “Everyone knows the real power behind the executive is his administrative assistant. Thanks to Mary’s diligent work, I could be where I needed to be—out on the road serving schools.”

Chad Woltemath, Assistant to the President Business/Finance, said that she is always eager to step up to the plate, even outside of her responsibilities: “Often I would mention in passing something that needed to get done but not assign the task to any one individual. Without saying anything to me, Mary would get to work. Often, I would come in and find the job was done!

About her time working at the office, she reminisces: “We worked hard but there were also good times. One summer, we were invited to Loon Lake Lutheran Retreat Center in Hale, Mich. Keith had a boat and took my sons tubing. The whole staff was invited and those who went spent the weekend there. It was fun.

Wagoner’s boss, Dr. Bruce Braun, says that it’s an honor to work with her, and he appreciates her positive attitude towards getting the work done and also having a little fun along the way.

When asked about funny office stories, Wagoner produced memories of pranks she played on her friend Cheryl: “One time, at Halloween, I filled the top of her sliding cabinet door with tiny plastic spiders – and she hates spiders. When she pulled it down at night to close it, all those spiders flew out at her and she almost had a heart attack. Another time I wrote “L” and “R” on sticky notes and put them on the back of her shoes. She didn’t notice [right away] and went everywhere with those shoes like that. She only found out when she got home. We had a good laugh about that later on.

L to R: Carol Williams, Mary Wagoner, and Cheryl Slyfield. In her speech, Carol said, “Mary can’t retire! She is the first one to get to work … when we come in and don’t hear ‘Howdy’ from her, we’ll think it is Saturday or a holiday!” Cheryl also honored her friend with words: ““Mary and I have known each other FOREVER, we raised our husbands and our children together … Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow? With silver hair, friends so fair, husband and sons all in a row.”

Wagoner’s son Skeeter contributes: “Mom worked hard at home and at her job every day. I never had to worry growing up. She would cheer me on in baseball games, help me with my homework, have dinner on the table, and the house was always clean. She was also mischievous, like the time our car had been running perfectly and all of a sudden one day there was smoke coming out of the hood! While Dad and we were frantically running around the car to find out where the smoke was coming from, she was laughing hysterically. She had planted a smoke bomb …

Wagoner will miss everyone, because she loves everybody at the office. “When I started here,” she said, “the Education Department had five assistants on staff, then we were down to three, then to two, and now to one. God bless you. I consider you all my second family, such good friends, especially Bruce who is a good listener and boss. You’ve all been great to me all through the years. I’m just going to miss you all. I’ll be back, but only for a visit!”

And the people at the office, past and present, will miss her, too. Former District President Rev. Dr. John L. Heins shares: “Mary was always a bright light in the District Office, willing to come in early and leave late, when necessary, to complete her responsibilities, regardless of the timeline. As a team member, she helped make the District Office a ‘fun’ place to be, more like a family, than a place just to work. She also survived the remodeling of the District Office.”

President David P. E. Maier said: “You were a constant, a pillar … someone you could count on being around, immensely helpful and genuinely courteous. On the few mornings that I’d be ahead of the rest of the folks at the District Office, I never was there in the morning before you. It warmed my heart to see the light in the District Office building already burning brightly in the darker months as I drove up the long drive from Geddes. As you enter this new stage of life, Pat and I pray and hope that you will experience every blessing that the Lord has in store for you and Barry with the same hopeful, grateful expectation with which you conducted your work and lived among us.”

In retirement, Wagoner looks forward to spending more time with her seven grandchildren and taking care of her husband. She is excited to meet her new grandson at the end of the month.

The Michigan District thanked Wagoner for her 25 years of service and celebrated her retirement at a dinner held in her honor on Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at Weber’s Inn in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Rev. Dr. Richard J. Wolfram, in his closing remarks at the dinner, said: “Mary, as this chapter in your life comes to a close, another chapter begins with these words of our Lord: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’”

Wagoner’s official last day of work will be January 27, 2015.


Subscribe to Blog Button

About the Author

Elisa is a staff writer, copy editor, and photographer for the Michigan District, LCMS.

More by This Author