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Sociologist inspired with attitude toward life

| Friday, Dec. 11, 2009

As a recreation director for the city of Pittsburgh, Joseph Waggoner was selected by the State Department in 1950 to travel to Afghanistan on a goodwill trip to introduce the Afghans to American sports.

"Dad said the country was primitive, but the people were friendly," said Sharon Rost of Lansdale, Montgomery County. "The Afghans were considered good runners who preferred track.

"The sheiks were appreciative of his mission and welcomed my father into their areas. And Dad enjoyed being with them."

Joseph I. Waggoner Jr. of Hampton died on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2009, in his daughter's home in Lansdale, Montgomery County. He was 92.

After returning to the United States, Mr. Waggoner married Marion Daley, a registered nurse from Garfield, who was employed by the Blaw-Knox Manufacturing Co. in Blawnox.

"Dad was known for moving fast," Rost said, "and Mom had no problem keeping up with him."

Rost recalled her father's positive spirit in any thing he undertook.

"He purposely stayed away from negative people. And in the talks that he gave to students and professionals, he'd tell them to 'live on, live on and don't let anything hold you back.' "

Mr. Waggoner was raised in Garfield, one of five children in the family of machinist Joseph I. Waggoner Sr. and Rose Wallisch Waggoner.

In 1935, after graduating from Central Catholic High School in Oakland, where he played football, Mr. Waggoner earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees in sociology at the University of Pittsburgh.

Mr. Waggoner entered the service during World War II and was assigned to the Army Air Corps, which stationed him in the Philippines.

"In his travels Dad had witnessed hunger and poverty and what it did to people," said Rost. "On Christmas Eve, Dad would take us to services at St. Vincent de Paul to be with and share with people who had very little in life."

In addition to his daughter, Sharon, Mr. Waggoner is survived by his son, Gary Waggoner of Glenshaw; daughter, Susan M. Waggoner of Point Breeze; three grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and a sister, Catherine Hagerman of Morningside.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Marion, in 1992, and his brothers, Lawrence, William and Edward Waggoner.

Visitation will be from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. today at the Herbert R. King Jr. Funeral Home, Inc., 2841 Woodland Circle, Hampton.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at St. Ursula Church in Hampton, with Bishop William Winter as celebrant.

Interment will be in Calvary Cemetery, Hazelwood.

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