Paul Frank Wager, 64, passed away on May 20, 2013, at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center with his family by his side after a courageous battle with mantle cell lymphoma. During his fight, he was an inspiration to his family, friends and the staff at DHMC.
He will be greatly missed by all who had the opportunity to know him.
He was born July 1, 1948, in Rochester, N.Y. Paul married Valerie Ann (Cromer) of Johnstown, N.Y., on Aug. 14, 1971.
Paul graduated from Gates-Chili High School in 1967.
He then graduated from Fulton-Montgomery Community College in 1970 where he was a member of the wrestling and softball team. He was named the FMCC Athlete of the Year in 1970 and to the college's William Wright Hall of Fame in 1976 and the National Junior College Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 1978 after placing fourth and sixth at the NJCAA Tournament. He also was a two-time Region III champion.
Paul earned an athletic scholarship to the University of Arizona in Tucson, Ariz., where he was a member of the wrestling team. At Arizona, he was member of the Western Athletic Conference championship team in 1971.
He also competed in the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Trials in 1976.
After graduating from Arizona in 1973, Paul became a physical education teacher at Proctor (Vt.) High School until his retirement in 2003. While at Proctor, Paul coached soccer and basketball.
From 1978-1982, he was the wrestling coach at Mill River Union High School in North Clarendon, Vt.
From 1983-1996, he served as an assistant wrestling coach at Whitehall (N.Y.) High School before returning to matside in 2006 through 2013. He helped coach several wrestlers to sectional and state championships while at Whitehall, even as he battled lymphoma this winter.
As a coach and teacher, he impacted many young lives, leaving a lasting legacy that continues to this day.
Paul also enjoyed his many summer jobs, including his time at Maplewood Ice in Whitehall, N.Y. He also enjoyed traveling to auto races around the northeast, as well as playing and watching softball.
Family, friends, community and the sport of wrestling were important to Paul, as he spent his life dedicated to them all. His three grandchildren were the loves of his life and brought him great joy.
Survivors include his wife, Valerie (Cromer) Wager; his children, Paul J. Wager (Jennifer), Janna DeLong (Chris) and Jessica Wager; three grandchildren, Colton DeLong, Paityn DeLong and Elijah Wager; his father, Paul F. Wager Sr.; his sister, Dona Martin, and several nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews.
Paul was predeceased by his mother, Helen; his uncle, Lawrence Wager; and his aunt, Evelyn 'Toots' Wager.
A special thank you goes out to the communities of Whitehall, N.Y., and Proctor, Vt., who supported Paul and his family during his battle with lymphoma. The family also would like to thank Dr. Christopher Lowrey, APRN, MSN Melissa Davis and the staff of 1 West at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H.
The family invites relatives and friends to attend calling hours from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, May 24, 2013, at Jillson Funeral Home, 46 Williams Street, Whitehall, N.Y.
A funeral service will take place at Truthville Baptist Church, 39 County Route 12A, North Granville, N.Y. at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 25, 2013. Immediately following the service, an interment will take place at Greenmount Cemetery in Whitehall, N.Y. A gathering for family and friends will follow at the Whitehall Elks Lodge, 7 Williams St., Whitehall, N.Y.
The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Paul's memory to the Wager Memorial Fund, c/o Janna DeLong, PO Box 832, Castleton, VT 05735, for the establishment of the Coach Wager's Pin It to Win It Memorial Award or the Whitehall Wrestling Boosters Club, c/o Al Aubin, 3 Pike St., Whitehall, NY 12887.