Alfred Carl “Al” Wagner died on December 6, 2018, in Fort Myers, Florida. He was 86 years old. He worked at Wagner College for 34 years, serving as the director of audio and visual services and also teaching courses in theater and education.
Al Wagner was born in Brooklyn, New York. He served in the Marine Corps before attending Wagner College. Following his graduation in 1958, he worked as the designer and stage manager for a summer theatre program on Long Island. There he met his future wife, Carole Sutton. The two were married the next year and moved to Pennsylvania, where Wagner worked in the theatre department at the University of Pittsburgh while pursuing a graduate degree at Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon University).
In 1961, he started working at Wagner College while also completing his master’s degree in educational theatre at New York University.
Professor Wagner’s colleagues and students remember him for his passion for theatre and dedication to his work. Walt Kristiansen ’63 met Al Wagner during his freshman year through the Varsity Players, the student theatre group, which put on performances for the College and church groups throughout New York City. “Al was instrumental in the audio and visual department, and truly instrumental in the theater program at Wagner College,” Kristiansen said.
In 1996, the Wagners retired and moved to Cape Coral, Florida. They worked with the Cultural Park Community Theatre until Carole’s death in 2003. In his final years, Wagner served as the director of the drama ministry at Burnt Store Presbyterian Church in Punta Gorda, Florida.
Wagner’s passion for theatre led to more than 60 years of contributions to various organizations and productions. He designed sets and lighting for over 460 productions, while also directing more than 120 of them, for summer theater, off-Broadway shows, colleges, a touring religious theater group, the First Avenue Playhouse in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey, and numerous other church and community theaters.
“He loved theater,” said Gary Sullivan, Wagner professor of arts administration in the Department of Theatre and Speech. “That’s what floated his boat. He was an unabashed buff.”