Dr. Grant Hulse Wagner
Dr. Grant Hulse Wagner
July 16, 1936 - January 4, 2020
Dr. Grant Hulse Wagner, age 83, passed on to his eternal home on January 4, 2020. He was born on July 16, 1936, in Hutchinson, Kansas, to Grant Bernard Wagner and Helen Elizabeth Hulse Wagner, the younger of their two children.
All three public schools he attended were in buildings that had been designed by his beloved Pahpa, the noted architect William Earle Hulse. He graduated from Hutchinson High School in 1954. Many of his high school friendships had begun in kindergarten and lasted his whole life.
In the summers he attended Cheley Camp in Estes Park, Colorado, for which he later served on the Board of Directors, ensuring that underprivileged children could also attend. His family summered close by in the mountain cabin his grandfather designed in the early 30’s in Meeker Park, Colorado. Named “Balla Machree” by young Hulse, it was forever his heart’s home.
At age 14 he began working at his father’s auto supply stores, Kingsley-Wagner, his strong work ethic emerging early. His entrepreneurial spirit had surfaced even earlier: by age seven he was selling cold drinks at the square dances at the Lodge in Meeker Park.
He never seriously considered a college other than Kansas University because both of his parents had attended there, so it was off to Lawrence to become a Jayhawker and to join Beta Theta Pi, his father’s fraternity. He was always proud of the Betas for consistently being the fraternity with the highest academic standing.
He graduated in 1958 with a B.A. degree in Economics and switched at the last moment from a doctoral program in economics to medical school. He graduated from the KU School of Medicine in 1964, having been elected a member of Alpha Omega Alpha.
During his senior year in medical school he spent several months in Borneo as a medical missionary, a harbinger of his future path of bringing good medical care to the underserved. Always hungry to know more, his medical education continued for 10 years after basic medical school as he studied pathology, then internal medicine, and finally psychiatry.
There was a Wagner family tradition of military service to their beloved country, dating at least as far back as his great-grandfather, who fought in the Mexican War in the 1840’s. It was no surprise then when he joined the National Guard as a 16-year-old high schooler and then joined the United States Air Force in 1962 while still in medical school.
There followed a distinguished 21-year military career with postings in the Canal Zone, Washington D.C., Vietnam, San Antonio, and Wichita Falls. As a flight surgeon during the Vietnam War he chose to fly 53 combat missions because he strongly felt the need to experience what his young patients were enduring. Consequently, he was awarded, along with several other medals, the Air Medal and Bronze Star.
After returning from the Vietnam War his military career was enriched by a two-year term as the Psychiatric Consultant to the Surgeon General (1978-1980) and by a sabbatical granted him to earn a Master’s Degree on the history of child psychiatry in America (1981, University of Maryland).
Colonel Wagner arrived in Wichita Falls in 1981 and retired in 1983 as the head of a staff of 16 psychiatrists at Sheppard Air Force Base.
In 1983, he married Carol Gibson Russell in Wichita Falls. His five children and her two provided them a large blended family of active young adults.
Upon retiring from the Air Force, Dr. Wagner entered private practice at the Clinics of North Texas. After five years there he assumed the medical directorship at the Helen Farabee Center for three years. For the last 19 years of his medical career he was in charge of the Child and Adolescent Unit of the North Texas State Hospital.
Dr. Wagner was recognized by his profession by being named Diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, and a Distinguished Fellow of the American Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Ever the student and eager learner, Dr. Wagner began studying at Worcester College, Oxford University, before retiring from the Air Force. After his marriage to Carol together they continued their graduate studies in England for many years.
Singing praises to God in a church choir began for him at age 15 when he joined the choir at the First Presbyterian Church in Hutchinson, Kansas. From then on for the rest of his life he lifted his voice to God with a choir, even in Vietnam where his chapel choir sang at the frequent funerals of fallen soldiers. He sang with the choir at the First Presbyterian Church of Wichita Falls for almost 20 years.
On becoming a Wichitan Dr. Wagner began to weave the fabric of professional, civic, and church activities which was to mark him a community leader. He was known for his diligence, faithfulness, generosity, and for nurturing values of service and stewardship in others.
Serving his profession at the state level, Dr. Wagner was a member of the House of Delegates of the Texas Medical Association and Chaired the state Committee on Impaired Physicians. At the local level he chaired the Family Practice Residency Program. He also served as President of the staff of both the Wichita General Hospital and Red River Hospital.
Dr. Wagner began serving on local boards even before he had retired from the Air Force. Among the many boards that profited from his leadership are the City-County Mental Health/Mental Retardation Board and the Wichita Falls Symphony Board, both of which he chaired, the Community Health Care Center, the United Way, First Step, Wichita Falls Museum and Art Center, and his very favorite: Faith Mission, Inc. A true servant leader, he not only gave tirelessly of his own energy and talents but supported Carol as she pursued her own endeavors to enrich and improve the life of their community.
In addition to all his time given to various boards and employments, his chief joys came from time spent in God’s word, in praising Jesus in song, in climbing his beloved Colorado mountains, in researching and learning for the sheer joy of it, and in serving Christ’s favorites: the broken, the bruised, the dispossessed.
Then there was the special grace of time spent with family and with Christian friends, especially the groups known as “Jolly” and “Called to Commitment” who knew well his spiritual discipline of praising God in all circumstances.
Dr. Wagner was predeceased by his parents, a son Richard Gaines Russell in 2011 and a son Benjamin Fike Wagner in 2016.
Among his survivors are his son William Hulse Wagner (Sherri) of Houston, daughters Dorothy Ann Wagner (Dr. Mike Hutchins) of Austin, Elizabeth Jean Wagner (Bernard Rosenblatt) of Austin, Josephine Wagner of Austin, daughter-in-law Michelle Wagner of San Antonio, daughter Anne Robin Russell of Wichita Falls, daughter-in-law Jenny Kile Russell of Seattle, and sister Ann Martin (Peter) of Windsor, Colorado. Also surviving are 16 grandchildren, 7 great-grandchildren, two nephews, and a niece.
The memorial service will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 11, at First Presbyterian Church of Wichita Falls with Isaac Butterworth officiating.
For those desiring, memorial gifts may be made to Faith Mission/Faith Refuge, P.O. Box 965, Wichita Falls, TX, 76307.
Condolences may be sent to the family at www.lunnfuneralhome.com.