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Auburn mourns loss of former councilmember, deputy mayor Richard Wagner

It is with a heavy heart that the City of Auburn announces the passing of former councilmember and deputy mayor Richard Wagner on Wednesday, June 16.

“I was saddened to hear of former Deputy Mayor Rich Wagner’s passing. I feel privileged to have served with him and learned from him. Rich had a passion for all things Public Works related and always provided that same level of interest and detail in his reviews and comments. As a new councilmember, I was able to learn much from Rich regarding the responsibility of being a public servant. May he rest in peace and accomplishment,” said Mayor Nancy Backus.

Wagner was elected to the Auburn City Council in 1990 and served seven terms, becoming the longest serving council member in the city’s 130 year history. Prior to that, he had served on the City’s Planning Commission for three years.

During his tenure on the council, Wagner served on a number of regional committees including the Puget Sound Regional Council Transportation Policy Board, the Metropolitan Solid Waste Management Advisory Committee, the Regional Access Mobility Partnership, the Puyallup River Watershed Forum, the Pierce County Regional Council and as an alternate member of the Valley Regional Fire Authority Board of Governance. He also served as a Council representative on the Auburn Arts Commission.

Wagner played an instrumental role in the decades-long effort to bring a community center to the city. He retired from the council in 2017, shortly after seeing the project come to fruition.

During his time with the City, he became a fixture of community events and parades, known by many as “The Popcorn Man,” as he pushed a red popcorn cart he had built handing out bags of free popcorn to attendees. He later donated the cart to the City for its continued use at the new community center.

He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Washington State University and a Master of Science Degree in Engineering from Santa Clara University. He was employed for 20 years as a development engineer in the computer industry with International Business Machines and the Tally Corporation, before joining the Weyerhaeuser Company where he worked for 25 years in building products research.

Mayor Backus, City Council, and City staff extend their deepest condolences to his four children and extended family and friends.


The Auburn Examiner sends our sympathies to Rich’s four children, loved ones, and friends.

The above is a press release from the City of Auburn. The Auburn Examiner has not independently verified its content. 

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