Alumni Profile

A.J. Wagner

Franciscan Magazine Homepage > Winter 2023 > A.J. Wagner

Alumni Profile

A.J. Wagner

The late A.J. Wagner was a model public servant.

Winter 2023 | Melissa Zifzal

In This Article

The late A.J. Wagner, a native of Pittsburgh, graduated from the College of Steubenville in 1973 and married his wife, Joan (McGuinness ’73), just two weeks later. Both earned bachelor’s degrees in elementary education, and together they moved to Richmond, Ohio, and taught school. In 1974, the couple relocated to Dayton, where A.J. attended law school at the University of Dayton, graduating in 1977. They remained in Dayton for the next 43 years.

A.J. was an exemplary model of a public servant, working as a probate attorney, county auditor, acting judge, and magistrate for Dayton Municipal Court, and judge for the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, among other law-related positions. He was also appointed to the Ohio Board of Education.

A.J. served on numerous boards, including the Ohio Chapter of the National Kidney Foundation, the United Way, and as chair of the Dayton Civil Service Board. He was also the founder of the Friends of Dunbar for the Paul Laurence Dunbar House and a past president of the University of Dayton School of Law Alumni Association. In addition, he authored five books, several of which benefited local charities.

His efforts did not go unnoticed. Some of his honors included Public Official of the Year (2000) from the Region VII Ohio National Association of Social Workers, a Special Service Award and Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Dayton School of Law, the Golden Gavel Award from the Ohio Common Pleas Judges Association, and the Auditor’s Award from the Auditor of State.

He was looking forward to accepting Franciscan University’s Alumni Citizenship Award as well, but sadly, he passed away on August 25, 2022, after a brief illness.

In 2017, A.J. and Joan moved to State College, Pennsylvania, to help care for their grandchildren. There, he founded and served as president of ButterflyPAC, a super political action committee that supports candidates who work to end child poverty and hunger.

A member of Good Shepherd Catholic Church, A.J. was a lay Marianist and past president of the Marianist Lay Network of North America. He leaves behind his wife, Joan, two daughters, and five grandchildren.

A.J. Wagner received the 2022 Alumni Citizenship Award, which is given in recognition of outstanding volunteer leadership or distinguished community service, thus bringing honor not only to their alma mater, but to their community at large.

Melisssa Zifzal writes from Wintersville, Ohio.

Go to Top