Renee WAGNER was born in Germany; her father
was presumed dead at the end of World War II. Times were really hard after the
war, but the family did their best to survive during this difficult period.
During that post war time Renee received her first lesson in
giving to the community, at the tender age of 8, when her Mom would give her
last bit of hard-earned money to the church.
Renee would ask, ‘how will we survive?’ Her Mom would always answer ‘somehow
we will survive’ and they did.
A wonderful man named Peter, who was a survivor of 3 years
of German concentrations camps, came into their lives and helped them. He eventually married Renee’s Mom, and Renee
always wondered how a concentration camp survivor could marry a German woman
with two German children, another big lesson in giving.
The family immigrated to the US and settled in Baltimore
when she was sixteen. Renee spoke no
English; a teacher and great man gave of his own time, took Renee under his
wing and taught her to write, read and speak English; yet another fine lesson
Renee married Mark Wagner and had two children, Angela and
Atticus, and three step-children, Barbara, Laura and Eric. The family moved to Laguna Hills forty-one
years ago. Renee became a small business owner.
Renee’s son Atticus wanted to play football at the age of
eight, and as a typical parent she began complaining about the football league. Atticus’s coach told her ‘lady put your money
where your mouth is’ and so Renee joined the Board of Saddleback Pop Warner
Football, where she was the president for six years. She gave many hours to that League and dealt
with thirteen teams of Football Players and thirteen teams of cheerleaders.
Her husband Mark, with many volunteers, built a Snack Bar
and Equipment Building on the league’s home field. Naturally, Renee brought food to the
Nineteen years ago Renee lost her husband and soul-mate,
Mark, to cancer. She moved to Big Bear Lake, where she bought a home and the
Barnstorm Restaurant at the airport in Big Bear City. Fourteen
years ago she was asked to join Rotary Club of Big Bear Lake. There she learned the true meaning of Service above Self. Renee has served on
the Rotary Board as Treasurer. She has
given tirelessly of her time and, of course catered unlimited delicious food service for unlimited Rotary events, as well as many other community
Renee has served on the Doves Board. She also served as Treasurer
of the Arts Council of Big Bear Valley.
Renee’s favorite day of the year is when Santa & Mrs.
Claus fly into the Airport and the Barnstorm Restaurant to visit the children.
She has held that event for eight years.
Renee hosts the families of the
Renee caters food or gives Gift Certificates for many events
at no charge, including several Rotary events, Man About Town, Friends of the
Big Bear Library, Big Bear High School and many others too numerous to
name. She also hosts a yearly fundraiser,
which is a Cancer Survivor Dinner, for the City of Hope.
When money runs scarce, Renee quotes her Mom ‘somehow we
The Big Bear Valley community and the Barnstorm’s employees
of the last seventeen years, have given her so much. Renee’s motto is “My thing is food, and we
must give back to our community.”
Renee would like to thank her Rotary friends for not only
teaching her what Service Above Self
means, but also bestowing her with this great honor.