William R. ‘Bill’ Wagoner
May 29, 1852 — Feb. 3, 2011
PLYMOUTH — William R. “Bill” Wagoner was born in Warsaw, May 29, 1952, to Roland and Bertha Wagoner. He grew up in Bourbon and was the youngest of six children. He passed away at home in Plymouth Feb. 3, 2011, after a brave battle with cancer.
Bill married the love of his life, Janice Green, May 2, 1992, in Bourbon, with the Reverend Sam Boys officiating. Bill always spoke fondly of growing up in a small town in the 1950s. He helped his mother in her Bourbon Dairy Queen, and mucked stalls for his dad’s Arabian stallion, Raudi, and an Arabian brood mare, Desert Moon, among other horses that Roland owned.
Bill graduated from Triton High School in 1970 and said “the” place to go after school games was Dilly’s Dump, a local soda shop. He worked for his dad at Bourbon Farm and Home Supply in Bourbon, assembling implements for farm machinery. While working for Roland, he learned keen and honest business practices.
After trying piano and saxophone, Bill took a few lessons on guitar, and his life would be forever changed. Bill soon became the lead guitar player for The U.S. Male Band in 1967, and toured a four state area, playing in such clubs as Tippy Gardens, The Top Deck in South Bend, Hullabaloo clubs in Fort Wayne and Portage, and The Crows Nest East in Detroit. The U.S. Male opened for the national touring bands New Colony Six, Music Explosion, Strawberry Alarm Clock, Spencer Davis Group, The Outsiders, and others. He always marveled at the “girls in miniskirts and go-go boots dancing in cages near the stage.”
Locally, Bill later played in the bands Backwood, Rivendell, Dave Haycraft Band, and lastly Jan Wagoner and The Left Hand Rockers, from 2007 until 2010. In “The Lefties” band, Bill shared the stage with his wife, Jan, and played at The Dandelion, the Blueberry Festival, and the Young Amphitheater, with a song list that ranged from Patsy Cline to Led Zepellin.
In November, 1976, Bill opened Wagoner’s Music Shop in Plymouth, at 611 E. Jefferson St. Now in its 35th year of business, the music store is currently located at 604 E. Jefferson Street, Plymouth. Bill’s wife, Jan, is managing the shop, and lessons and instrument sales are continuing, in the tradition that Bill has set forth. Together, Bill and Jan owned horses, rescued and adopted many cats and dogs, enjoyed car shows, vacationed in Las Vegas, and worked side by side for nearly two decades.
Bill was on the board of directors for the Marshall County Humane Society for six years, and was a kind and philanthropic man. He had a soft spot for homeless animals and teenagers who needed a mentor. Bill raced Porsche cars for a time, customized a few guitars, attended trade shows, met rock stars, and always said that The Who was “the greatest rock band that ever was and ever will be.”
Music encompassed every waking moment for Bill. It enriched his life, and made him a living, and he strived to pass on his knowledge so others could enjoy that gift as well. Bill was preceded in death by his parents.
He is survived by his wife, Jan; a brother, Tom (Diana) Wagoner, of Bourbon; and four sisters: Joann Wagoner, Bobbie Brunk, and Patty Bauer of Plymouth, and Margi Heckley of Fishers, Indiana. Several nieces and nephews also survive.
A memorial open house will be held at Christos Banquet Center, 830 Lincolnway East, Plymouth, from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 12.
Memorial contributions can be sent to Marshall County Humane Society, P.O. Box #22, Plymouth, IN, 46563 or the Marshall County Hospice, at 112 S. Center St., Suite C, Plymouth, IN, 46563.