John Rodney Wagoner, 70, died Thursday, January 14, 2021 in Houston, Texas. John was a convivial and loving husband, father, brother, and friend.
Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma on April 12, 1950, he attended Will Rogers High School and went on to obtain a master’s degree in physics from Oklahoma State University. After relocating to Houston in 1980, he went on to work in multiple fields. He possessed a brilliant mind and his passion for theoretical physics and mathematics was matched by very pragmatic skills, such as computer programming, tinkering with anything mechanical or technical, and home rehabbing. But perhaps most importantly of all, John spent most of his daughter Alyssa’s formative years serving as a devoted stay-at-home dad, where he was able to put his expansive knowledge and passion for sharing it to use.
John passed after a strenuous two-month recovery from heart failure and related complications that included a quadruple bypass, aortic valve replacement, and three other major operations on his heart and legs. Perennially stubborn, he was a survivor and fought hard to recover. Three days into his rehabilitation at a skilled nursing facility, he was rushed to the emergency room and diagnosed with COVID-19. Within four days, he was gone. Like the 400,000 other Americans who did not survive COVID, he had a will to live that could not overcome this deadly and destructive virus. A true advocate of science, John pushed for those around him to social distance, use PPE, and get vaccinated as soon as possible, sentiments his devastated loved ones would like to echo.
He is survived by Mary Theresa Wagoner, his life partner of 47 years and wife for 45 years, his daughter Alyssa Blair Wagoner and her husband Niko Peter Letsos, his sisters Patricia Gail Wilson and Carol Wagoner Gray, and his beloved rescue cats Alistair and Marconi. He is preceded in death by his parents, Robert and Frances Wagoner, and his brothers Donald and Richard Wagoner.
He remained an independent thinker and avid learner his entire life. As a witty, funny, and sarcastic punster, John had a knack for making anyone and everyone around him laugh.
He is deeply missed and was greatly loved. As John was a private person, and due to limitations related to the coronavirus, there will be no funeral or memorial service. Instead, or in lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the American Physical Society.