In the early morning hours of Wednesday, March 23, 2016, Susan Alison Wagner passed away after a two month battle with cancer. Her sons were by her side. Susan inspired students her entire professional career with her compassionate and insightful methods and commitment to life long learning. In a sense, we who knew her were all her students. She lived an unusually integrated and authentic life of caring – for her children, her family, and others who crossed her path.
Born on October 14, 1950, in Bethlehem, PA, Susan grew up on Long Island with two brothers and loving parents. They swam and sailed in the bay around Centerport Harbor, played in the Atlantic Ocean waves, and enjoyed life together in the woodsy neighborhood around Coolidge Drive. After high school, she graduated from the State University of New York, Cortland in 1972 with a Bachelor of Science, then continued her education with a Masters of Science from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1975. She taught physical education in public schools between her personal education pursuits until she landed a kinesiology faculty position at Texas A&M University, College Station in 1977, where she taught for 38 years. At Texas A&M Susan continued her own education, earning a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction in 2008 and becoming a Clinical Professor. Two Aggie Fish Camps bore her name, she was departmental Teacher of the Year three times, and received the Faculty Distinguished Achievement Award, among other honors and awards.
Susan taught all her life and loved it. She thrived on the interaction, always sharpening her techniques and approach, and working to draw out the spirit of inquiry in her students. That was true into this very semester when she passed away. She had a way of laying out the information and drawing the students to it and through it such that they felt they themselves had thought of it somehow. It was a collaborative, non-judgemental approach, yet at it’s core lay critical thinking at it’s finest.
In College Station, Susan married Lance Lowy and they had three children together. Zach, Dutch, and Marshall (spaced a few years apart) became the subjects of a motor skills development video she created and used in her classes to show the age-related progression of physical skills. Devoted to her children, she kept book at little league games, ferried small soccer players around, and created a stable, patiently disciplined household where young people could develop into emotionally healthy adults. And they have. She helped found Friends Church, her memorial service venue this Friday, April 1, 2016, at 10:00 AM followed by a reception on site at 2200 Southwood Drive in College Station. Susan served for a decade on the local School Board, finishing as President. She worked as an education consultant, once travelling to Doha, Qatar to offer curriculum development guidance, and she worked in her home doing laundry and cooking. An avid bicylist, she rode to work daily, taught bike safety courses around the state, and was a member of Rails to Trails, a national program to convert abandoned railways into scenic bike trails. Susan lived her physical education, teaching Pilates, exploring Cross-fit techniques, practicing yoga, and swimming regularly. She served as a sponsor for women struggling with alcoholic family members. She met her second husband, Chuck Rhea, in College Station and blessed me with her last 12 years. Exploring prayer, meditation, and worship together, we developed an intimacy which sustained us and expanded our spiritual lives. We lived across the street from a local park, and took the grandchildren to feed the ducks and ride bikes as often as the kids would visit. Susan lived a full and wholesome life.
Susan was preceded in death by her father, John Harold Wagner Jr and her brother John Harold Wagner III.
Survivors include her husband, Charles “Chuck” Rhea; sons and daughters-in-law, Zach and Carisse Lowy, Dutch and Meggie Lowy, Marshall Lowy; mother, Jean Katherine Wagner; brother, Thomas Andrew Wagner; and grandchildren, Tenley Lowy, Luke Lowy, Davis Ray Lowy, and Dylan Jean Lowy.
A Memorial Service Celebrating her Life will begin at 10:00 a.m. Friday, April 1, 2016 at Friends Congregational Church located at 2200 Southwood Dr. in College Station, Texas. Cremation and Celebration of Life services are in the care of Callaway-Jones Funeral Home and Crematory in Bryan College Station, Texas.
In lieu of flowers, Dr. Wagner’s family requests that memorials be sent to the Texas A&M Foundation, 401 George Bush Drive, College Station, Texas, 77840. Please designate gifts “in memory of Susan Wagner” in the memo line. Gifts received will be applied to an endowed scholarship being established in Dr. Wagner’s memory for a physical education student in the College of Education and Human Development at Texas A&M University. – See more at: http://transform.tamu.edu/news/dr-susan-wagner-remembered-dedication-students#sthash.uMBM6E93.dpuf
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