Born in Bristol, Russ was raised in Blountville and lived most of his life in the Tri-Cities area, along with seven years in Fairbanks, AK. Russ graduated from Holston High School and Tri-Cities State Tech, and he had a 33 year career at Eastman, first as a draftsman, and later as a CAD technologist and IT network administrator. He always enjoyed fishing and woodworking. After retiring from Eastman, Russ became an accomplished woodturner. In recent year, his work has been featured in several juried exhibitions and craft shows. He particularly loved educating people on wood properties and characteristics. He was on the board of Tri-Cities Woodturners Association and a member of Tennessee Craft, Northeast Chapter.
Russ was a member of Central Baptist Church in Johnson City. He participated in mission trips to Mexico, Guatemala, and Kentucky. He was also instrumental in starting the North Star chapter of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Fairbanks, AK, which was the first chapter in Alaska. Russ loved Jesus and he loved people.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Keith and Mary Wagner; and two brothers, Fred Wagner and Wayne Wagner.
Russ was a loving husband, father and grandfather. He is survived by his loving wife of 51 years, Nancy Calloway Wagner; daughter, Shelley Whitener and husband, Scott; daughter, Buffy Wilmoth and husband, Scott; and four grandchildren.
The family will have a Celebration of Life service at 2:00 pm on Saturday, February 1, 2020 at Central Baptist Church, Johnson City, with Dr. Tommy Hood officiating. A reception at the church will follow the service.
The graveside service will be at 10:30 am on Saturday, February 1, 2020 at Tri-Cities Memory Gardens, Blountville (East Tennessee Funeral Home and Cemetery). Pallbearers will be Scott, Zachary and Camden Whitener, and Scott, Foster and Auburn Wilmoth.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to one of two charities close to Russ’s heart: (1) the Guatemala Mission Fund at Central Baptist Church, 300 North Roan St., Johnson City, TN 37601, cbcjc.org/give; or (2) North Star Imagination Library, P.O. Box 82657, Fairbanks, AK 99708, northstarimaginationlibrary.org.