A Conversation with Don Wagner: Dementia and Fruitfulness

Oblate School of Theology

A Conversation with Don Wagner: Dementia and Fruitfulness | Spirituality for our Wisdom Years Webinar

Originally Published on the Website of Oblate School of Theology

July 7 @ 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

July 7 | 6:00PM – 7:00PM Central Time | ONLINE EVENT VIA ZOOM

Registration: $10 | REGISTER HERE

How does the agonizing challenge of caring for a beloved spouse invite one into a deeper relationship with God and community? How does this terrible medical condition yield gifts to those who are called to this caretaking? How does this represent the important work in maturing spirituality away from achievement, towards a fruitfulness which produces a legacy of peace for your loved ones, your faith community, and the world?

In this third of a series of conversations with elders who have entered into the final stage of life with grace and wisdom, Dr Maggie Meigs, Director of the Forest Dwelling Program at OST, will have a conversation with Don Wagner, Brigadier General (Ret.), United States Air Force, Medical Service Corps. Don is 92 years old and cared for his wife of almost 70 years until she died in early 2022. Jan was living with Alzheimer’s Disease for the last decade of her life. Don cared for her at home for many years until he had to place her in a setting that was able to care for her when he could no longer manage her safely. Don will share how he coped with the management of Jan, along with his grief as he lost the wonderful conversation partner and friend with whom he had shared his life since high school. An important part of this journey was the way he enlisted his faith community, his family and friends, and professional care in such a way that he was able to remain healthy, loving, and able to be his beloved’s caretaker. Don is very clear that his spiritual life and church community were essential along the way. Jan’s funeral was very well attended; people were uplifted and inspired by both Don and Jan – testaments to the legacy they are leaving behind.

Tentative Schedule

 6:00 pm – 6:45 pm Conversation with Don
 6:45 pm – 7:00 pm Questions and Comments from Participants


Don Wagner was born in York, Pennsylvania in 1930. He began his healthcare career as a Physical Therapist, and entered into the United States Air Force during the Korean War. His initial assignment was to establish a Physical Therapy Department, and in the course of performing administrative activities in the hospital, he decided to move into the field of Hospital Administration. He received his Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration from Baylor University, Waco, Texas in 1960. While on active duty in the Air Force, Don worked as the Chief Executive Officer in hospital facilities ranging from a 25 bed primary care hospital to a 1200 bed clinical teaching center. Additionally, he had several assignments at the command level of the Air Force, serving his last three years of active duty as the Deputy Surgeon General for Operations, USAF.  He departed the Air Force in 1982, having achieved the grade of Brigadier General.

Don became the Associate Vice President for Patient Care and Administrator at the University of Texas – M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas in October 1982. In August 1985, he joined the Memorial Hermann Healthcare System in Houston, as the Chief Executive Officer of their 600 bed Memorial Southwest Hospital. He remained in that role for 6 years, at which time Don chose to reduce his working time commitment and became internal consultant for the Memorial Hermann System. During this time, he developed an educational exchange program between Memorial Hermann and medical facilities in China and served as an international healthcare consultant throughout the world. Don retired from Memorial Hermann after 19 years.

Don has served his community through board membership and leadership positions in the Alzheimer’s Association, YMCA, Boy Scouts, Kidney Association, United Way, the Hospice at the Texas Medical Center, and St. Luke’s United Methodist Church. He has a great interest in the education of students aspiring to the profession of healthcare administration and has served on the faculty of several universities. He is Board Certified in Healthcare Administration, and is a Life Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE). Don received the Lifetime Service Award for 2009 from the ACHE. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Health, and an Honorary Fellow of the American Academy of Medical Administrators.

Don married his high school sweetheart, Jan, in 1952. They have four children, eleven grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.

Registration: $10 | REGISTER HERE

This presentation will be recorded and will be available for viewing through August 7, 2022. Approximately 24 hours after the presentation, a follow-up email will be sent that will include instructions on how to re-watch.

Students, staff, and faculty from Oblate School of Theology may attend for free. Please email continuinged@ost.edu with your name and institutional email address. You will be added to the attendees list and receive an access link by email the day prior to the event.

For information, contact Emmett Gonzalez at egonzalez@ost.edu or (210)341-1366 EXT 320.