Norman L. Wagner was a decoder in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War, his daughter Vicki Kerr said.
Kerr said her father was proud but private about his military service in Korea. A Navy captain who attended Wagner’s military service said he had been ranked at a very high security level, Kerr said.
Wagner, 79, of Hammond, played basketball while in the Navy and was passionate about the game. He was a devoted Indiana University basketball fan.
“He knew all about the team and all the stats from past years,” Kerr said.
A car inspector for the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad, Wagner retired after 42 years. Growing up, Wagner spent time with his father, a railroad tower man, in the historic East Chicago Grasselli Tower, which has been moved to the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum.
“He loved his job, he loved his environment, he loved the work that he did there, everything about IHB,” Kerr said.
A faithful friend and loyal Hessville resident who still lived in the family home, Wagner fostered his friendships. Friends with Jack Blount for almost 75 years, the two met and shook Harry Truman’s hand when he was campaigning along Kennedy Avenue, Kerr said.
“It was amazing how he maintained his friends,” Kerr said. “He was very social.”
Family was important to Wagner. A young grandfather, he preferred to be called “Uncle Norm,” Kerr said. A devoted animal lover, Wagner’s dog Kelly was a perfect match for him in his later years, Kerr said. Wagner walked Kelly faithfully, taking good care of him.
Single since his early 40s, Wagner enjoyed dancing, listening to music, socializing, golf, playing cards and establishing new friendships. He enjoyed ballroom dancing and took lessons.
Wagner also met Mondays with other retirees for coffee at the Schererville McDonald’s, keeping up on local politics.