Girl who saw injustice made justice her life’s work
For Wagner, the former Ku Klux Klansman’s daughter who had gone from witnessing one kind of extremism firsthand to another, it was a seminal event. Her transformation into social crusader was complete.
A nationally known gay rights advocate and former vice president of the national Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays board, Carolyn Marie Wagner died Tuesday in Tulsa after a long battle with cancer. She was 57.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center in Tulsa.
Serenity Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.
Wagner, a longtime Arkansas resident, and her husband, Bill Wagner, retired to Tulsa three years ago, and she continued her advocacy work here through the local PFLAG chapter and Oklahomans for Equality, among other groups.
Despite her worsening health, “Carolyn was involved in everything,” said Toby Jenkins, executive director of Oklahomans for Equality.
“She made sure everyone knew about the Equality Center and its programs. She brought us a lot of national attention and connections that we didn’t have before.
“I don’t think the average gay person in Tulsa has any idea that this mother with the strong Arkansas accent was the kind of warrior she was in fighting for our issues.”
In 2000, Wagner was a grand marshal in Tulsa’s annual gay pride parade, alongside Gabi Clayton, with whom she had founded the support group Families United Against Hate.