Obituary for Gregory Alan Wagner
October 28, 1947 – February 18, 2020
Gregory Alan Wagner passed away on February 18, 2020, in Grass Valley, California, due to sudden heart failure. He was 72.
Due to the pandemic, a celebration of life event will be held at a later time.
Greg was born on October 28, 1947, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Dr. Donald E. and Shirley J. (Blank) Wagner. He graduated from Mount Lebanon High School in 1965. He attended various colleges and achieved a degree in electronic engineering.
When he was 14 years old he developed an interest in HAM Radio. He enjoyed building his own radio equipment and interacting with other radio enthusiasts around the country. Through this hobby, he developed a lifelong passion for electronics and design, which led him to his eventual career. In the early 1970s, he worked as an RF Engineer for RCA, designing circuits and studying the effects of radio microwaves on people and the environment. He and a colleague presented the results of that research in a white paper at an engineering conference in Denver, Colorado. Greg married Carol Simpson in 1972.
Greg loved motorcycles and the outdoors, but the climate in Pittsburgh was not conducive to that activity for much of the year. He researched other locations that would provide more sunny days in the year, and after a road trip around the country, he and Carol chose Grass Valley for their new home. After moving to Grass Valley in 1975, Greg pursued various business ideas, eventually establishing a career as an electronic design engineer. He spent most of the next two decades either working for himself or as an engineer for local businesses, including Tri-Continent Scientific, where he designed electronics for medical test devices. In 1984, Greg and Carol divorced.
In 1985, Greg married
Sharon (Simmonds) Blanchard, and welcomed her and her three young sons into his life. He embraced the role of stepfather, helping to care for the children when they were young, and supporting their activities as they grew. He produced their musical events, taught them skills from electronics to driving to shooting, helped support them through college, and contributed toward the purchase of their first homes.
In 1995, Greg decided to pursue a different professional path, becoming a software publisher. Based on his own experience, he developed a product specifically for the needs of engineers and designers like himself. Parts&Vendors was well received in the industry and Greg’s business thrived for 20 years until his retirement in 2015.
Greg’s love of the outdoors led him to spend many hours every summer enjoying the water, rocks, and sunshine of the Yuba River, which he called his favorite place on Earth. After retirement, Greg renewed his passion for motorcycles. He owned several bikes, and took them on weeks-long adventures all over the western United States. When he rode a motorcycle, he felt free of the weight of the troubles and stresses of the world.
Greg had a brilliant mind and a big heart. He loved inventing things. If he was working on a project and needed a device or tool that didn’t exist, he would make it himself. He was detail-oriented and very organized, especially with his tools. He hated it when a tool was not where it was supposed to be. “If you can’t find it, you don’t own it” was one of his famous sayings. He enjoyed lively conversations about ideas and experiences. He was passionate about life. He loved his family a great deal, and was grateful to have them in his life. He will be deeply missed.
Greg is survived by his wife, Sharon, stepsons, Michael Blanchard (Lisa), Jeremy Blanchard (Rachel), sister, Barbara Wagner Jones (Ron), two step-grandsons, Owen and Nicholas Blanchard, two step-granddaughters, Elliott and Reese Blanchard, and various cousins.
Greg is preceded in death by his parents and his stepson, Jeffrey Blanchard.
Memorial contributions may be made to the ACLU, or any charity of your choice.
Arrangements were under the care of Hooper and Weaver Mortuary.
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