RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A former owner of McLean’s Country Style Restaurant in Richmond and 30-year employee of the Virginia Department of Transportation died of COVID-19. Fred Wagner was born in Tazewell, Virginia, and has been a Mechanicsville resident for the past 42 years.
Wagner lived for the thrill and had a passion for motorcycles. At 84-years-old he was always trying to stay active, whether it be mowing his lawn, water skiing and riding motorcycles
“My dad and I started taking motorcycle trips all over the world,” said Darren Waggoner. “We went to Italy and really all over. We loved to travel.”
Waggoner says he and his dad have been going to Florida’s Bike Week since 1991. In March, the father-son duo traveled to the sunshine state for Bike Week, but little did Waggoner know it would be their last trip together.
Normally they stay for about 10 days, but Waggoner said his dad left a little early because of his allergies.
“I think he caught it in the airport in Atlanta because that’s the only time he was not where we were,” stated Waggoner.
He said his father had no underlying conditions and was an active, healthy man. On April 1, Wagner started having severe breathing problems and was taken to Bon Secours Regional Memorial by ambulance.
“They intubated him and put him on a ventilator,” said Waggoner. “From a matter of seven to 10 days he went from fine to passing away.”
Wagner died on April 9, leaving behind four children and several grandchildren. Waggoner says it’s tough because in 2018 he lost his mother to lung cancer just two months after she was diagnosed and now his father in a matter of days. Wagner and his wife were married for 62 years.
“Obviously the worst thing about it is that he is gone, but the compounding part that makes it difficult to find closure is we didn’t get to see him, we didn’t get to talk to him, hold his hand and be there with him, or share stories,” recalled Waggoner.
Quite the Renaissance Man, Wagner lives on through his dedicated work and family. He worked at VDOT as the Chief Appraiser for three decades at the downtown office.
Waggoner said even though he worked at VDOT he was always an entrepreneur, which led him to selling waffle cone machines at one point and is how he ended up owning McLean’s Restaurant.
McLean’s has been serving up country-style food and is a staple in the Richmond community dating back to 1965. Waggoner says his mom and dad bought the restaurant in 1986 and ran it for 10 years before selling it to his sister, who runs the establishment today.
Waggoner said it’s hard to believe his dad is gone.
“I’ve caught myself reaching for my phone to call my dad to see if he wants to meet at our spot in Mechanicsville,” he told 8News.
Right now, the family is planning a celebration of life on Aug. 12, which would have been Wagner’s 85th birthday. Like many Richmond restaurants, McLean’s is open for takeout everyday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
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