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July 6, 2020

Consummate Gardener, Brenda Wagner Dies at Age 77


Lake City locals were grieved early Tuesday morning, October 17, by news of the death of long-time local resident Brenda Creel Wagner in Gunnison.
Brenda, age 77, had been in declining health the past several years as the result of lung problems.
After spending last winter at lower elevation out of Lake City, she returned to her lower Silver Street home — the historic log Roach-Thompson house at 5th and Silver — to spend the past summer.
In an informal chat with SILVER WORLD in August, she related thrilling memories of mountain climbs, rafting, camping and various outdoor adventures. “I’m glad I did those things when I did” she said, “I have no regrets.”
Brenda was rushed to hospital in Gunnison with breathing problems early last week and after treatment was tenderly cared for under hospice care at the new Wisconsin Street home of Jim and Kent Milski in Gunnison.
During her final days in Gunnison, Brenda spent hours sitting outside in the sun in the garden, occasionally sipping wine, while visiting with a cavalcade of family and friends. Lake Citians in large numbers went down to Gunnison to see her, family members present including her sons, Scott Creel, Lake City, and Todd Creel, Telluride, Colorado, and her daughter Willow Wagner, who lives at Astoria in coastal Oregon.
According to Willow, during her short stay at the Milski house, Brenda was headquartered in a purple-hued bedroom — purple was her favorite color — with a painting by Lake City artist Margi Weir above the headboard.
It was there that she died quietly at 1:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Plans for a memorial celebration — tentatively scheduled in Lake City for late spring or early summer, 2018 — are being formulated. A celebrated local gardener, Brenda (Kneese) Creel Wagner and her late husband, John Wagner — for whom John Wagner Public Library in Lake City is named — first moved to Lake City in the early 1970s and at various times lived at Burrows Park on the upper Lake Fork, the boarding house at Ute-Ulay Mine, the Jim and Therese Ryan Ranch, and Child’s Park near Wager Gulch.
After acquiring Tommy Thompson’s old “Homer’s Haven” log cabin in the early 1990s, Brenda developed the contemplative and always colorful “Secret Garden” on adjoining vacant lots. The public garden became an immediate attraction for both local residents and visitors.
She was honored with a plaque by Hinsdale County Clerk & Recorder’s Office late last year for her decades’ work as an election judge in Hinsdale County.
A further, more in-depth obituary is planned at a later date.

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