William Loren Wagner Sr.

Date of Birth

August 14, 1926

Date of Death

February 11, 2023

City of Death

Santa Barbara

An amazing soul has ascended to heaven to join his wife of over 73 years, Margie, and their two sons who preceded his passing, Bill Jr. and Eric.

William (Bill) Wagner Sr. was born in Los Angeles in 1926 and grew up in North and West Hollywood during the great depression. Times were extremely challenging, and Bill began working at a young age to help support his family. He and his brother Gaylord, sold newspapers which began his passion for sales, developing relationships, negotiations and deal making. He was a persistent entrepreneur even from a young age. His work experience also included operating a large laundry steam press in his teens and would become his job when he joined the Navy in World War 2. While stationed at Alameda Naval Air Station, Bill met his lifelong love, Margie Cassavechia, dancing at the USO Hospitality House in Oakland in November 1944. Bill and Margie married on June 3, 1945 about 3 months before the end of the war.

After his honorable discharge from the Navy, Bill’s first business was leasing a laundry and dry-cleaning facility he named Wagner Laundry. It quickly became apparent to him that this line of work was causing him health problems. So, he closed this business and started a new business as a dairy products supplier. It was a successful venture in which he owned his own delivery truck and started several delivery routes in new neighborhoods around the Bay Area. A little over two years later Bill would get his real estate license which would shape the rest of his professional career.

Bill joined a real estate firm and the owner-broker suggested he might do well by finding the owners of vacant lots in the Bay Area and persuade them to list their lots for sale with him. Bill took his advice and thrived in his new line of work. He was Rookie Broker of the Year and went on to become a sales leader at the firm. A few years later in the mid 1950’s, Bill and his young family moved to Sacramento where he started his own very successful real estate and construction business, Wagner Real Estate. A little over ten years later in the late 1960’s, Bill would develop a relationship with Sambo’s Restaurants which he sold them numerous lots to build restaurants. This relationship would lead him to his next business venture.

Sambo’s offered Bill the job of Executive Vice President in charge of Development with the company at their national headquarters in Santa Barbara in 1970. Even though it would require him to move his family again, it was an opportunity too good to let pass. During the next ten years Bill would oversee the building of nearly 1,000 Sambo’s Restaurants nationwide.

After leaving Sambo’s in the early 1980’s Bill would become a commercial real developer. His projects continue to be a blessing to a vast number of individuals and families. This also allowed time for he and Margie to travel the world for many years which they both enjoyed. They loved living in Santa Barbara where they were extremely involved members of their church and community. Bill sang in the Constance Street First Presbyterian Church choir for over four decades. He and Margie were also very active members of the La Cumbre Golf and Country Club for five decades and shared a passion for playing golf. He was an avid reader and lifelong learner. Bill was always smiling, telling jokes and had a huge heart, which touched many people in his lifetime. He will be greatly missed.

Bill is survived by his daughter-in-law Carol, grandchildren Bill III (Wendy), Kim (Kevin), Haley, Casey (Leah), Max (Kristen), eleven great grandchildren, and two great-great grandchildren.

A memorial Funeral Service will be held at First Presbyterian Church at 21 East Constance Street at 1:00 PM on March 18, 2023. A reception will follow at La Cumbre Country Club from 2:00 to 4:00 PM.

All are welcome to attend.


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