Passing of Associate Member Bob “Wags” Wagner

Posted on June 7th, 2020

Charter Hall of Fame charter associate member Bob Wagner passes at age 83

Wilbert Robert “Wags” Wagner, III of Manchester, Maryland, inducted in 2001 as a charter member in the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame Associate Member category, passed away recently at age 83. His long career in drum and bugle corps activity began in 1943 and extended more than 60 years well into the alumni drum corps era and the turn of the century.

Along the way, his teachers with various competitive and alumni drum corps included some of the best-known arrangers and instructors in the activity, many of them now also members of the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame.

He became a member, and eventually president, of the Yankee Rebels Alumni Drum and Bugle Corps in 1988, playing soprano and mellophone under the direction at various times of Ray Eyler, Ray Fallon, Truman Crawford, Jamie Bennett and Larry Kerchner. From 1991 to 2000, he played soprano horn with Archer-Epler Musketeers Alumni, with instructor Ray Fallon.

Beginning in 1994, he played mellophone with Reilly Raiders Alumni, taught by Bob Adair, Larry Kerchner and Bill Pusszi. From 1996 to 1999, he played mellophone for New York Skyliners Alumni, under Bucky Swan. He played mellophone with Hawthorne Caballeros Alumni beginning in 2003 and Music Express in 2004, under Larry Kerchner.

He first marched, at age seven, in 1943, continuing non-stop with several top competitive east coast corps until 1969.

From 1943 to 1949, he played drums under Joe Soistman and bugle under William S. Hart at P.S. School 83 in Baltimore. From 1945 to 1949, he also played bugle with instructor Webb Rice for Tall Cedars Junior Drum and Bugle Corps. He played bugle with St. Michael’s from 1949 to 1951. For the next four years, he was a bugler with Kenwood Cadets and Kenwood Cavaliers.

From 1955 to 1957, he played with Baltimore’s Hamilton Post 20, with Bill Rennie, Skip Groff and Truman Crawford as instructors. Bobby Adair was his instructor with Reilly Raiders from 1957 to 1960. He played with New York Skyliners in 1960 and 1961, when Hy Dreitzer was the instructor. He spent his final years of competition, from 1961 to 1969, marching with Baltimore’s Yankee Rebels, with instructors Skip Groff and Truman Crawford.

A graduate of Johns Hopkins University, he retired from Dow Chemical Company in 2000. He had served in the Maryland National Guard. He is survived by his wife Arleen, daughters Stephanie Brewster (Bill) and Cynthia Barbe and two grandchildren.

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