Charles “Chuck” Wagner, MD., who operated Milton Family Practice as well as Wagner and Prigg in Milton, passed away on October 8 after a long illness. Dr. Wagner served the Milford and Milton areas as a family practice physician for almost 40 years.
Born in Charleston, West Virginia, in December 1944, Wagner was the second of nine children born to Gilbert and Antoinette Wagner. He graduated from Leonia High School in 1963 and volunteered for the United States Army. Before leaving for basic training, he attended Farleigh Dickinson University for one year. He completed basic training at Fort Dix in New Jersey in 1964, then trained as a helicopter pilot CWO I at Fort Walters, Texas and Fort Rucker, Alabama, Officer Candidate School. Wagner served in Korea and in Vietnam, receiving the Army Commendation Metal with “V” Bronze Star as well 16 Air Medals.
After his honorable discharge from the Army, Wagner completed his degree at Farleigh Dickinson University as well as Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1974. He served a three-year residency at St. Luke’s Hospital in New York. He practiced for one year at Carle Clinic in Champaign Urbana, Illinois before returning settling in Milton where he worked as an Emergency Room physician at Milford Memorial Hospital. He and his family moved to Prime Hook Beach where he became a regular at Roxie’s Café in Milton which is now the Milton Theatre. It was here that he learned there were very few primary care physicians in Sussex County and none in Milton at the time.
In 1980, Wagner purchased property at 424 Mulberry Street, located next to H.O.B. Elementary School where he established Milton Family Practice in 1980, growing the practice into one of the largest primary care practices in Delaware, serving over 12,000 patients. The growth of the practice led Wagner to expand his facilities and to establish the first MRI in Southern Delaware. Eventually, the practice moved to Red Mill Pond Center on Coastal Highway and became Pointe Primary Care after Wagner retired in 2016.
Wagner served on the board of Milford Memorial Hospital, The Visiting Nurse Association, the Milton Chamber of Commerce, the Medical Center of Delaware and was awarded the William D. Littleford award for corporate public service. He also holds several patents for energy conservation, monitoring technology and hardware.
Although Wagner was a prominent physician in the area, he was also well known for his love of hot air ballooning. He designed and ordered a balloon he named the “Della Bear” to represent the state and started the First State Hot Air Balloon team. Wagner travelled nationally to festivals promoting what he called “the little state with a big heart.” He and his wife, Patt, organized 13 balloon festivals in Milton, bringing as many as 15,000 people to the area annually. The festivals benefitted the Diabetes Sugar Free Kids Program as well as the Milton Theatre.
In addition to his ballooning activities, Wagner was a member of the Milton Lions Club and obtained a miniature train from DelDOT that he arranged to have the “Milton Clipper Express” installed in the Milton Town Park. He was also instrumental in establishing the annual Milton Canoe and Kayak races.
Health issues made it difficult for Wagner to continue practicing medicine and curtailed some of the projects he started, but he still was unable to just relax upon retirement. He worked on his farm, raising water buffalo, horses and chickens. He could also be found mowing, gardening or repairing things.
Ahead of his time in every field, Wagner pursued interests with engagement, encouragement and education, savoring not only his own successes, but those of his family, friends or those he mentored. He was often heard speaking highly of his wife, children and grandchildren.
“There are a thousand reminders of him everywhere you look, from Milford to Lewes and in between,” his obituary read. “His lasting legacy will continue to inspire his friends, family and countless people who were helped in and out of his medical office.”
Comments on his obituary and social media reflect the impact Wagner had on the area.
“Remembering one of the best men I have ever known,” Michelle Lobingier commented. “RIP Chuck! You will be truly missed.”
Carol McKnitt Heinold expressed her sympathy, noting that she enjoyed working with him at Milford Memorial Hospital. Jeff and Molly Chorman commented about how much Wagner did for the community and remembered that he took them for a hot air balloon ride.
“Wow, I am lost for words,’ Jan Sammons posted on social media. “The best doctor that was ever on this planet has passed away. Dr. Wagner was my doctor for over 30 years.”
In addition to his wife, Patt, Wagner is survived by his daughter, Dr. Elizabeth DiProspero along with her husband, Dr. Nick DiProspero and their sons, Peter, Andrew and John. He is survived by a son, Geoffrey Wagner, his wife, Jennifer and their daughter, Hayden, along with a stepson, R. Tate Garey and his wife, Jennifer, and their children, Evelyn and Grant.
Funeral services will be held Friday, October 14 at 1 PM at the Avenue Methodist Church, 20 Church Street in Milford with a viewing that will begin at 11 AM at the church. Interment will be in Barrett’s Chapel Cemetery in Frederica. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Bayhealth Medical center Sussex Campus, 100 Wellness Way, Milford or a charity of your choice.
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