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Obituary: Gary K. Wagner, Former Owner of Phoebe Floral

Gary K. Wagner, 66, of Upper Macungie, died Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012.

Posted by Mary Ellen Alu (Editor), December 22, 2012 at 09:42 pm
Gary K. Wagner, 66, of Upper Macungie Township, passed away Thursday, December 20, 2012 at Lehigh Valley Hospital, Salisbury Township. He was the husband of Debra L. (Miller) Wagner, to whom he was married for over 20 years. Born in Fogelsville, he was the son of the late Kermit D. and Pauline A. (Sechler) Wagner.

Gary was a 1965 graduate of Parkland High School and was inducted into the 2001 Parkland High School Athletic Hall of Fame for his impressive three-year (1963-1965) domination in District 11 Track and Field.

He won the District 11 100- and 220-yard dashes in three straight seasons and went on to win the state title in the 100 and 220 his junior and senior seasons. Forty-seven years after graduating, Gary Wagner’s name remains in the record book for the 9.70-second time posted in the 100-yard dash in ’65 and the 21.40-second time he achieved to win the 220 in ’64.

His impressive record yielded a full scholarship to the University of Tennessee, where he achieved All-American status for three seasons and was named the Most Outstanding Athlete in the Southeast Conference Track and Field Outdoor Championships his senior season after his victories in the 100, 220, and 440 relay. He shared the world record in the 100-yard dash, running 9.2 as a sophomore and again as a senior. In the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Trials, Gary qualified as an alternate in the 440 relay. Although he helped his team to qualify, he didn’t get to run in the semis or finals, but still talked of it as being one of the most amazing experiences of his life.

Gary was a Captain in the U.S. Army and served a brief tour of duty in the Special Forces Unit in Vietman. After returning to the Lehigh Valley with a degree in accounting from UT, Gary joined the staff of Phoebe Floral in 1969 as a bookkeeper.

His passion for the floral industry could not contain him to an office setting. He thrived in the presence of the customers and employees he cherished and eventually purchased the company from his mentor, Horace McCready in 1980. Gary served as Owner/President, Chief Operating Officer and Financial Officer of Phoebe Floral until he sold the company in 2005.

His humility, creativity and vision, the service he so readily provided and his loyalty to those he served was the hallmark of Phoebe Floral’s success. Under his leadership, Phoebe Floral became one of the “Top 50” Teleflora and FTD florists in the country. A generous man with his time and talents, he served as president of the Pennsylvania Florist Association, was a member of the Society of American Florists, the American Academy of Floriculture, the Allentown Rotary Club and the Dale Carnegie organization were he served as an instructor. He volunteered his resources to multiple charitable organizations and fundraisers including Dream Come True, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, KidsPeace, Good Shepherd, and all of the local hospitals. His “retirement” from Phoebe Floral did not end his love of the floral industry, nor his desire to be involved with flowers. His personal and professional associations provided him with many opportunities to share this passion with others.

Gary belonged to the congregation of Calvary Baptist Church in Allentown, had served on the board of Trustees and was an active member of the church choir. He loved the game of tennis and those he had the honor to meet, to play with and against, and to be coached by, at various clubs both here in the Valley and in Florida. He also enjoyed traveling, particularly to be near the ocean where he found solace and joy. He spent countless hours training his Goldendoodle; Lexa and together they became a volunteer team for Therapy Dogs International. Yet, he was most happy when showing his love to others, by spending time with and helping his family and friends. He never looked at the challenge; he merely went about each and every task with energy, enthusiasm and the enormous love in his heart.

Survivors: Wife, Debra L., sons Casey J. Wagner and Joseph M. LeVan, daughters Kelly B. Wagner, all of Allentown, and Laura M. (LeVan) Moog and her husband Timothy of Breinigsville, sisters, Patricia Collins and her husband Thomas of Hummelstown, Nancy Peters of Orefield and a granddaughter, Cara Lynn Wagner.

Services: 10:30 AM, Saturday, December 29, at Calvary Baptist Church, 4601 Tilghman St., Allentown. Calling period Friday, 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM at the church. A celebration of his life will be held after the service at Lehigh Country Club, Allentown. Burial will be private. Arrangements by Trexler Funeral Home, Allentown.

Contributions in memory of Gary can be made to: The Parkland Trojan Alumni Varsity Club (TAVC), P.O. Box 51, Orefield, PA, 18069.