The Dr. George Frederick and Beverly Jane Wagoner Center
The namesake of the Dr. George Frederick and Beverly Jane Wagoner Senior Center were very active members of the Manistee community. George and Beverly moved to Manistee after Dr. Wagoner’s retirement from a career as an OB/GYN doctor who practiced in Cadillac, Michigan. Dr. Wagoner was passionate about the well-being of senior citizens and served as Vice President of the MCCOA Board.
Dr. Wagoner spearheaded the efforts of the MCCOA to find a new location where the Manistee Senior Center could thrive and expand programming and services. “I was driving down Monroe Street, past the former St. Mary’s church,” said Dr. Wagoner. “I thought gosh, if we could move the Senior Center there, it would be all the room that is needed.” Dr. Wagoner’s outreach to the Divine Mercy Parish/Diocese of Gaylord led to the MCCOA acquiring the real estate and buildings of the former church.
While the task of raising $3.4 million is daunting, Dr. Wagoner had always believed that the people of Manistee County would come through. “I like this community better than any place I’ve lived, because of the people, not because of the lake or the dunes or the beaches or any of that,” added Dr. Wagoner. “It’s been my experience that the people of Manistee, collectively, are the kindest most generous people that I’ve had the good fortune to live among and I’m grateful for that."
Dr. Wagoner had been trying to identify an appropriate memorial to honor his wife, Beverly, who had passed away in 2007. “I’d been looking for a suitable memorial for 11 years, but memorials are funny things, they’re ethereal. They’re here for a while then they disappear,” said Dr. Wagoner. “This one’s not going to disappear, it’s going to grow because it is so needed by the community.”
On September 5, 2018, Dr. George Wagoner was greeted by family, friends and community members at a surprise naming ceremony at the former church property. “It was an incredible day and when I think about it I don’t get very far. I get as far as wow,” said Dr. Wagoner. “Wow. It’s really happening and it’s going to keep happening here because Manistee is one special community.” Sadly, Dr. Wagoner lost his courageous battle with cancer, passing away November 7, 2018.