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Thursday, Apr 24, 2014

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Ray Wagner

Ray Wagner

Photo courtesy of: 970 WATH

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OHIO mourns emeritus professor

Ray Wagner taught at OHIO for more than 30 years


Ray Wagner, professor emeritus of communication studies specializing in interpersonal communication, died on Thursday morning.

Wagner, named a University Professor in 1972, taught at Ohio University for more than 30 years. After his retirement from OHIO, he pursued a new path as a radio host with Athens-based station 970 WATH.

"Ray was a dedicated teacher and mentor. I felt that Ray wanted people to grow where they were planted," said Jerry Miller, interim director of the School of Communication Studies. "Get involved and take action if action was needed. I believe that he lived his life that way and encouraged those around him, students and colleagues, to do the same. He will be missed. His voice will be missed by all those who tuned in to his radio program. We are thankful to be among his colleagues and are much better teachers as a result of his guidance."

On WATH, Wagner and Dave Palmer co-hosted "The Party Line," which WATH calls "Southeast Ohio's oldest running and premier radio talk show." Wagner also hosted "Sentimental Journey," a showcase for music from the Big Band era to the 60's.

Wagner graduated with a B.S. from Manchester College in North Manchester, Ind., and an M.A. from Ball State in Muncie, Ind. He received his Ph.D. in communication studies from Ohio University in 1969.

He is survived by his wife, Tish, and their five children. In his biography on the WATH website, Wagner listed his hobbies as," working for nothing and volunteering in Athens." That commitment to serving others was seen in his personal life and on his radio show. Wagner often invited Volunteer Action with Rural Action onto "Sentimental Journey."

Though retired, he continued to maintain close ties with Ohio University. This spring, Wagner was awarded the L.J. Hortin Faculty Mentor Award.

At the ceremony, Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit said, "Great teachers and mentors foster curiosity. They help students to grow intellectually and socially. There is no higher calling than to shape [students’] passion."

The L. J. Hortin Faculty Mentor Award is given to a current or former faculty member who exhibits a commitment to the professional and personal growth of students both in the classroom and after graduation. Benoit said that Wagner, who taught in the School of Interpersonal Communication, now called Communication Studies, made such an impact on his former students that a group of them gathered in 2009 for his 80th birthday. The event was such a success that it is became an annual occurrence.

"Ray and Tish were among the most welcoming individuals when we arrived to Athens in 1996," said Miller. "Both were extremely helpful in making sure that we felt comfortable here."

Wagner was remembered fondly throughout the college.

"Ray Wagner was a celebrated teacher, mentor, and friend," said Scott Titsworth, interim dean of the Scripps College of Communication. "Ray's legacy is already well established in the generations of students welcomed into his life, and his many contributions to the School of Communication Studies and the Scripps College epitomize what we all hope to be as members of a University community. He viewed relationships as a starting point for teaching; he cared about and promoted the success of his students; and he valued his colleagues. All of us who knew Ray will share in a deep sense of gratitude for his kindness, generosity, and devotion to our University and the Athens community."