Washington College Magazine

College Bids Bon Voyage To Waterfront Director

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July 25, 2013
He has been captain, coach, dockmaster, mechanic, carpenter, fundraiser, friend and mentor to everyone in the Washington College community who has been drawn to the Chester River. Now, after 30 years, John Wagner ’74 is retiring from his post as waterfront director.

Wagner’s legacy at the College is wholly intertwined with the history of the waterfront and of its rowing and sailing programs. As a student, Wagner was a coxswain for the men’s rowing team while the program was in its infancy. He went on to serve as a rowing coach from 1979 to 1987. Since he became waterfront director in 1983, his impact has been as broad as it has been varied. 

“It is hard to imagine the Washington College waterfront without John Wagner,” notes Director of Athletics Bryan Matthews ’75.  “John has literally built and managed the entire waterfront presence and program that we have become accustomed to. He has given his heart and soul to ensuring that students, faculty, staff, alumni and the folks of Chestertown have enjoyed safe, successful and pleasant experiences at the waterfront. He has made sure that varsity athletes were able to compete at the highest level and enjoy outstanding equipment and facilities. We will sorely miss John, not only as a tremendous waterfront director, but also as one of the true Washington College icons.”

In addition to raising funds for boats and equipment, Wagner physically built much of the existing waterfront facility, including the docks. The College’s varsity sailing program—annually among the best in the nation—owes its very existence to his efforts. The birth of the program was spearheaded by Wagner and was initially funded solely through the boat donation program. His influence on the men’s and women’s rowing programs helped those teams achieve NCAA and IRA National Championship appearances. 

“I’ve felt that I’ve had the perfect job for me. I get up in the morning every day, and I don’t go to work,” Wagner remarks. “I just go to the boathouse.”

Last modified on Jul. 29th, 2013 at 11:58am by Kristen Hammond.