By Conrad Dudderar
Oklahoma has lost a music legend who provided many memorable holiday performances for Yukon crowds since the mid-‘90s.
“Doc” Irv Wagner, who played trombone for 76 years, passed away Sept. 15 at age 86 after battling lung cancer.
Wagner performed on his instrument and directed bands and orchestras at Yukon’s Freedom Fest Veterans Tribute, Concerts in the Park, Christmas in the Park, Kris Kringle Carnival, Central Oklahoma Ballet’s Nutcracker, and more.
Wagner taught for 54 years in the University of Oklahoma Music Department. He was known for his love and passion for music.
Then-Yukon City Manager Jim Crosby introduced Wagner to Jan Scott in 1999 when Scott became Yukon’s parks and recreation director.
For 22 years, Scott coordinated with Wagner on various events at the city’s parks and recreation venues.
“He was my favorite guy, and we became fast friends,” Scott said. “All events were smooth sailing with Irv. He traveled all over the world performing, but was the nicest, down-to-earth and most genuine person you could ever meet.”
Scott’s heart was broken by the loss of her dear and longtime friend.
“He was such a talented guy who gave so much pleasure to everyone he entertained and especially to the Yukon community the 22 years I worked with him,” she said.
Yukon’s Debra Doran Vossen, artistic director of Central Oklahoma Ballet, grew to admire Wagner over the past decade.
Wagner conducted the Oklahoma Community Orchestra, which provides live music for the annual Nutcracker performances each Christmas season.
“Irv was a wonderful person to work with,” Vossen said. “He always had a positive, jovial manner about him – always uplifting. Everybody who knew him just loved to be around him.
“This is a great loss because he truly, truly loved music. The enthusiasm for what he did was just really touching. I can’t say enough good things about him.”
Wagner played for many years with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic symphony and performed in ensembles and combos.
Larry Taylor, a former Yukon band teacher and mayor, said Wagner was “one of those rare people” who everyone liked.
“Irv was a fantastic performer; he made the trombone do amazing things,” said Taylor, who plays the trumpet. “He also was a fantastic person.
“It’s a real loss to everyone around.”
Yukon Mayor Shelli Selby added, “Irv was a wonderful conductor who was passionate about music.
“He brought such life and culture to our Freedom Fest. He will be missed by us all.”
Wagner’s remarkable musical talent “graced our community” for nearly three decades and his passion for music was contagious and inspiring, according to a post on the City of Yukon’s Facebook page.
“From the citizens and City employees of Yukon: thank you Dr. Irv Wagner for the memories and joy! Your music continues to echo in our hearts.”
A Celebration of Life for Wagner is being planned for next spring.