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Karen Van Wagner

1949 - 2014 | Obituary Condolences
Karen Van Wagner Obituary
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Dr. Karen Van Wagner, daughter and first child of Orman and Catherine "Cathy" Van Haitsma, wife of William "Bill" R. Van Wagner and mother of Kendal Catherine Simpson and William "Will" R. Van Wagner II, died Friday, May 30, 2014, following her brave fight against pancreatic cancer. Memorial service: 2 p.m. Thursday at First United Methodist Church, 800 W. Fifth St., Fort Worth. A reception will follow. Karen and Bill were deeply in love with each other for 47 years, 44 of which were a strong and loving marriage. Her three grandchildren brought new meaning, strength and love to her life. And, in return, Dr. Van Wagner, known by her granddaughters as "Nona," gave to her grandchildren wonderful memories and the knowledge that Nona's love is ever-present and knows no bounds. Dr. Van Wagner was a warrior not only in fighting her cancer, but also in her professional life. She obtained her doctorate at the age of 22, after which her professional accomplishments touched organizations across the country. Dr. Van Wagner performed social research in connection with Operation Push, taught statistics and sociology at Trinity University in Chicago and Kansas University, engaged in city management and founded a doctoral city management program, served as director of the Oklahoma Health Systems agency and served as a hospital administrator at Children's Hospital in Los Angeles, Calif. Ultimately, Fort Worth became Dr. Van Wagner's professional home base. She spent many years as a hospital administrator at Harris Hospital. Then, Dr. Van Wagner and three specialist physicians set out to form and grow a business that would impact the Fort Worth health management, provider and general health care system in and far beyond Fort Worth. Their new health care organization, North Texas Specialty Physicians (NTSP), grew from the three specialist physicians to nearly 600 general and specialist physicians, considered to be the best in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. In addition to NTSP, Dr. Van Wagner oversaw the formation and operation of six other health care organizations, five of which continue to operate, and she sat on the board for each of these entities. Dr. Van Wagner sat on several other boards, including the board of JPS Health Network. She was asked to share her expertise with and provide input to the Texas governor's office, federal congressional health care committees and the White House, and was a sought-after speaker for many health-care seminars. Dr. Van Wagner will be sorely missed in every role she played: a colleague, a boss, a mentor, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother and Nona. We will always remember that rainbows are round. Survivors: Dr. Van Wagner is survived by her mother, Cathy Van Haitsma; loving husband, Bill Van Wagner; son, Will Van Wagner; her daughter, son-in-law and beautiful and bright granddaughters, Kendal, Tyler, McLean, Ainsley and Hattie Simpson; brother and sister-in-law, Loren and Sue Van Haitsma; and sister and brother-in-law, Kathy and Bill Van Dyke.
Published in Star-Telegram on June 3, 2014
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