I.J. "Izzi" Wagner
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I.J. "Izzi" Wagner "Semper Fi" Irving Jerome "Izzi" Wagner, 89, died Feb. 1, 2005 in Salt Lake City after a long life and a short illness. Izzi was born March 31, 1915 at 144 W. Third South in Salt Lake City, the second of three children of Harry and Rose Wagner. He was a proud alumnus of West High School, class of 1932. When Harry died in 1932, Izzi and Rose took over the family business, Wagner Bag Co., then heavily in debt during the Depression. They built the business into one of the most successful companies of its kind in the country. The family later sold Wagner Bag to St. Regis Paper Company, and Izzi served on the St. Regis board of directors for many years. Izzi's lifelong commitment to improving Salt Lake City helped shape the downtown community. He was a long-time member of the Salt Lake Planning and Zoning Commission, where he led the campaign to remove oversized signs and billboards from downtown streets. He was on the Salt Palace Advisory Board when the Convention Center was built and on the Airport Advisory Board when it was reorganized as an independent board. In 1978, Utah Holiday Magazine named Izzi one of the 20 most influential men in Utah. At one time, Izzi and various partners owned properties on the west side of Main Street between Second and Third South. He bought Trolley Square when it was just dilapidated bus barns. He developed Wagner Industrial Park and he bought and sold other properties in Salt Lake City and Ogden. His generosity made possible the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, built on the site of the adobe house where he was born, and the I. J. and Jeanne Wagner Jewish Community Center near the University of Utah. He made significant contributions to LDS Hospital, University Hospital and other health care organizations. He joined the Marines in 1942 and was among the first troops ashore at Guadalcanal, where he contracted malaria and was evacuated to the States. (He joked that a mosquito saved his life during World War II.) He was a long-time board member of Zions Bancorporation and a member of the Salt Lake Rotary Club, the Japanese-American Civic League, the Utah Manufacturers Association, and other business and civic organizations. His wit and humor made him a popular speaker and valued friend. Izzi married his beloved Jeanne Rasmussen in August, 1942. She died in 1993. He is survived by sister-in-law, Kay Schott, two nieces, Saundra Peterson and Candace Wagner, and dozens of friends from all walks of life. Izzi was buried in the B'Nai Israel Cemetery in Salt Lake City. At his request, there was no funeral. Those wishing to do so may make contributions in his memory to the Wagner Jewish Community Center.

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Published in The Salt Lake Tribune from Feb. 3 to Feb. 4, 2005.