A. James Wagner saved Rose T. Barnes from drowning, Cave Creek, Montana, July 17, 1946. Mrs. Barnes, 28, stepped from the bank onto a boulder in the West Gallatin River, fell into the water, and drifted 25 feet from the bank in water 15 feet deep and in a current of four m.p.h. The water was turbulent, and many boulders rose above the surface. James, 17, schoolboy, who was fully clothed, jumped from the bank into the water, swam across the current, and grasped Mrs. Barnes’s clothing at the back. After they were carried by the current for 25 feet, James’s father swam from the bank to them and took hold of Mrs. Barnes’s clothing at the back. All drifted 25 feet and struck a large boulder, the impact separating the three. James’s father was submerged, and the current carried him past the boulder. Under the surface, James again got hold of Mrs. Barnes’s clothing, rose, and tried to swim across the current but made no progress. Turning onto his back, he drifted 60 feet farther and got hold of a boulder near the bank. Keeping hold of the boulder with one arm, he pushed Mrs. Barnes within reach of men on the bank, and they pulled her to the bank. His father swam and drifted to the bank at a point 25 feet beyond James. Mrs. Barnes was unconscious but was revived. 40753-3502
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Arthur James Wagner, Jr., died in his home in Lynchburg, Va., on Jan. 3, 2009.
Born and raised in Marion, Ohio, Wagner was the eldest son of Dr. and Mrs. Arthur James Wagner. He attended and graduated from St. Mary’s High School in Marion and earned his college degree from Ohio Northern University.
As a teenager, Wagner was awarded a Carnegie Medal for his heroic river rescue of a drowning woman while on a trip with his father in Montana. He served in the Marine Corps, both on active duty and in the reserves, for 25 years, retiring at the rank of major. He later became a charter member of American Legion Post 110 in Virginia Beach.
A restaurateur, he began at the L and K Restaurant in Marion. His restaurant career allowed him to travel to many different places and led him to Lynchburg. As the owner and operator of The Colonial Lounge, he was the first to introduce live music to the Lynchburg area. Later, he became regional manager of Bonanza International Restaurants and moved his family to Virginia Beach.
(Edited from an obituary in the Lynchburg News & Advance, Jan. 6, 2009.)