HERMANN – Hermann’s own River City Music Man, the late B.A. Wagner, was inducted Aug. 25 into the Bearcat Memorial, the highest honor given by the Gasconade County R-1 School District for …
HERMANN – Hermann’s own River City Music Man, the late B.A. Wagner, was inducted Aug. 25 into the Bearcat Memorial, the highest honor given by the Gasconade County R-1 School District for service to and support of the local school and community.
Wagner was a Hermann High School music instructor, orchestra leader, civic leader and businessman who was remembered in remarks presented during the 2023 induction ceremony in the Hermann High School (HHS) Auditorium. After the HHS Band performed the National Anthem, the audience was led in the Pledge of Allegiance by HHS Student Council President Jill Rood.
Superintendent Geoff Neill gave the opening remarks on Wagner, pointing out one quote about the beloved music enthusiast’s life, “He lived life full-steam ahead.”
“That sounds like it’s accurate for a man who gave so much to the community,” Neill said.
Lois Kruse delivered the biography of Wagner, who was the band teacher at HHS during World War II, prompting several heads nodding when she mentioned the “unforgettable aroma of cherry pipe tobacco smoke” wafting from his pipe.
“We are here to recall and honor B.A. Wagner’s contributions to the Hermann school and community,” Kruse said.
And recall she did – from Wagner having graduated from HHS in 1936 to his entry into a banking career in 1939. In addition to his chosen profession of finance, Wagner was involved in many organizations, including a tenure on the Hermann School District Board of Education, during which he served five years as president. He also served several years as president of the Hermann Hospital Board and he was active in several civic organizations.
But it was his love of music and dedication to teaching music that is most remembered. Kruse recalled that in 1933, Wagner led a dance orchestra in the area. He also was the music director for what is now St. Paul United Church of Christ in Hermann.
R-1 Board President Dot Schoening closed the ceremony by speaking about the relationship between Wagner and her son, Ben, as the families lived alongside each other on Boy Scout Road. This relationship started when her son began doing lawn work for Wagner.
“They had a great relationship,” she said. “He was a great neighbor and a great mentor for my son.”
Born in 1918, Wagner died in February of 2012.
After the induction ceremony, members of the Wagner family, along with Gasconade County R-1 officials, gathered at the memorial where Lynette Kutthoff, representing the members of the family attending the event, placed a commemorative stone honoring B.A. Wagner alongside the stones honoring earlier inductees.
The Bearcat Memorial was started in 2007 and more than 30 people have been honored for their service to the school and support of the community. The inaugural honors in 2007 were Carol Binkholder, Charlie Page, 1st Lt. Steven Bezold and Lance Cpl. Erik Heldt. In 2008, the lone inductee was Dr. James T. Shaw. The other inductees, by year, were:
• 2009: Jody Stiers-Herbst and Matt Lampkin;
• 2010: G.W. Heying, Imogene Story Meyer, Nan Sellenschutter and Don Gosen Sr.;
• There was no inductee in 2011;
• 2012: Elmer Danuser, Art Draper and Earl Hauser;
• 2013: Chris Arand and Elvira Bohl;
• 2014: Sylvan “Bud” Krone and Leroy and Janet Lerbs;
• 2015: Jana “Missy” Frink and Leon Toedtmann;
• 2016: Clara Eitmann Messmer and Anna Kemper Hesse;
• 2017: Ralph Sellenschutter and Charles Eitzen;
• 2018: Kenneth Lerbs and Landon Grosse;
• 2019: David Schulte;
• 2020: Lloyd Stock;
• 2021: Dorothy Heying; and
• 2022: Gerald F. Engemann.
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