D. William Wagner, Human and Legal Rights Champion

By Montecito Journal   |   December 21, 2021
D. William Wagner

D. William (Bill) Wagner, 78, passed December 7, 2021, at home in Santa Barbara, surrounded by his wife and sons. Bill was born to Earl and Lois Wagner in Dixon, Illinois, and raised in Sterling, Illinois. A lifelong love of language and people led him from consecutive statewide debate championships for Illinois in 1960 and 1961 to Northwestern University to study political science and government, continuing at Northwestern University School of Law where he graduated Cum Laude and was a member of the Law Review. 

Bill started practicing law in Chicago and moved to Los Angeles in 1981 as a partner at Sidley & Austin, specializing in corporate and commercial real estate law for more than 40 years. He was a champion of human and legal rights for all. His advocacy began early with work for the National Institute for Education in Law and Poverty in Chicago and continued with thirty years of service as a board member for Housing Options for People to Excel (HOPE) transitional housing in Venice, California. After moving to Santa Barbara, he served for eight years as vice chair on the steering committee for Human Rights Watch and as a board member for the Legal Aid Foundation.

Bill was preceded in death by his first wife, Barbara, and survived by his sister, Marcia, loving wife, Sue Aldrich Wagner, sons Peter and Nicholas, their wives, and his four grandchildren. He was a remarkable human being, beloved by family and friends, and will be remembered for many gifts, but perhaps most prominently for always being ready to share a companionable smile and a kindred voice.

Those wishing to do so are invited to make a donation in his name to the Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara (www.lafsbc.org, 301 E. Canon Perdido Street, Santa Barbara, California, 93101) or Santa Barbara Human Rights Watch (11500 W. Olympic Blvd. Suite 608, Los Angeles, California, 90064).


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