Chris Wagoner Obituary, Death – Chris Wagoner, Director of the IAM’s William W. Winpisinger Education and Technology Center, died recently. After a brief illness, Wagoner, 60, died on Sunday, November 20, 2022, with his family by his side. During his 33-year IAM career, Wagoner dedicated his life to training and educating union activists at the Winpisinger Center, a campus in Hollywood, MD that many regard as the IAM’s “crown jewel.” Wagoner started as an education representative at the Winpisinger Center in 1989 and rose through the ranks to become the center’s assistant director in 2005. Since 2007, he has served as director. Wagoner will resign from the IAM in July 2022.
“The entire IAM is devastated by the loss of such an iconic, caring, and influential figure in our union,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “Throughout the IAM’s more than three decades of challenges and triumphs, Chris has been a great friend and confidant to myself and many others.” Chris’s unwavering devotion to our union and membership will live on in the hearts of those he touched over the years. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Chris’s wife Jill, daughter Mollie, daughter-in-law Qifei Zeng, and everyone who appreciated and valued what Chris brought to our lives both on and off the job.”
Wagoner was a frequent visitor to the Winpisinger Center, where thousands of IAM members, officers, and staff took part in leadership, organizing, negotiating, and other programs that increased power and knowledge. Wagoner would attend every class he could, emphasizing that the Winpisinger Center, like the labor movement, must be an inclusive, diverse, and welcoming environment for all. “Wimpy’s vision created the Winpisinger Center, but no single person gave it more life and purpose than Chris Wagoner,” said Winpisinger Center Director Mary McHugh. “He has made incalculable contributions to our union.”
Wagoner oversaw the massive expansion of programming at the Winpisinger Center, which included negotiation preparation, remote learning, and Spanish-language classes. He led the Center through the COVID-19 pandemic, quickly adapting to remote learning and fighting tirelessly to rehire Winpisinger Center staff and reopen the facility with proper precautions. Before joining the Winpisinger Center, Wagoner worked as an aide for the Kentucky General Assembly’s Committee on Labor and Industry. He also worked in the Labor Education Program and the Illinois Hazardous Waste Worker Training Program at the University of Illinois. Wagoner graduated from the University of Louisville with a bachelor of science in political science and a master of arts in labor relations from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. The Wagoner family requests that donations be made in Chris Wagoner’s memory to the IAM’s favorite charity, Guide Dogs of America/Tender Loving Canines, in lieu of flowers.