Memorial service for Higley district administrator Art Wagner on Monday
Wagner, 43, found dead near high school campus; police believe suicide
Higley Unified School District Athletic Director Art Wagner, shown here in 2012.
The East Valley and all of Arizona high school lost one of its great leaders in Art Wagner, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound near Higley High School on May 15. Since his football-playing days in Texas and his Arizona beginnings at McClintock, Wagner, 43, worked his up the proverbial ladder as a larger-than-life presence who worked tirelessly (perhaps to a fault) throughout the Higley Unified School District and the Arizona Interscholastic Association in a variety of leadership positions. His infectious personality — “it’s all good” and “yes, sir” were his catchphrases — coupled with his extreme work ethic and refusal to say “no” tangibly affected thousands of kids, teachers, coaches and school staff for nearly 20 years. Hundreds attended his “celebration of life” at the Higley Center for the Performing Arts less than a week later, a night of laughs, stories, hugs and Kleenex as Wagner’s life and life lessons were recounted.