Ronald P. Wagner | News, Sports, Jobs – Williamsport Sun-Gazette – Williamsport Sun-Gazette

Nov 26, 2021

In a world where a Google search of almost any name will bring multiple results, Yuk Wagner was an exception. Born Ronald Pierce Wagner on March 20, 1969, in Williamsport, he was affectionately known as Yuk–which was short for Yukel, which was short for “motoryukel,” which was what he’d shout when he’d see a motorcycle in his earliest days. And it turned out to be fitting: a one-of-a-kind name for a one-of-a-kind character.
No matter what was going on in Yuk’s life, you’d get the same smile and a hug, as if you’d just made his day. And what was going on in his life was bound to be different every time you saw him. It began early, with his four changes of major at Penn College of Technology after graduating from Williamsport Area High School in 1987. He started as an accounting major, switched to general studies, then to business management, then to building construction technology and finally back to business management. He left school before graduating, but he got what he needed out of the experience–he and his wife Kathy opened the Billtown Perk coffee shop on West Fourth Street in 1996.
Yuk moved on to numerous restaurant stints in, among other spots, Lincolnton, N.C., Selinsgrove, Hanover and Lock Haven before returning to Williamsport as a manager for Ruby Tuesday. Most recently, he was head chef at the Crippled Bear.
It’s not officially on the list of “love languages,” but food was one of Yuk’s love languages. To know him was to have eaten his food at one place or another and taken comfort in it–and taken half of it home because of the generous portions. While serving as head chef and kitchen manager at Pier 87 in Montoursville, he won the Hillside (Catering) Soup Challenge for his clam chowder in 2018. And his cooking continued to win raves after he and Kathy recently added his father to their household, although Dad had to plead with Yuk to be a little less giving with the portions.
Yuk’s other love language–one from the list–was quality time. Regardless of whatever financial or physical challenges he might have been facing from day to day, he could always find the time to give his full attention to a chess game or talking fantasy-football strategy with his sons, Drew and Blake. Amid all the change that marked Yuk’s life, the one constant was his devotion to fatherhood. He worked six-day weeks, but he gave every minute of his day off to his family. They went to countless concerts over the years, from a Tom Petty show that Drew was too young to remember to Blake’s first Dead & Company show (a tradition begun when Yuk’s mother drove him to his first Grateful Dead show) to what would be Yuk’s last: one of Phish’s two nights at Hersheypark Stadium in August. When money was tight, the family would spend Yuk’s days off playing cornhole in the backyard, horse at the basketball hoop in the driveway, anything they could do together. When the time came for Drew to move out of the family home and into an apartment in Montoursville last year, it’s not an exaggeration to say Yuk nearly wept even though he’d only be three miles away.
The Wagner family got its start when Yuk married Kathy Bates in 1994, and it was expanded when Drew came along in 1997 and Blake followed in 2001. In the course of the journey that followed, besides mastering fatherhood, Yuk learned how to be Kathy’s best friend and an all-around great listener. He learned to care so much about his friends and loved ones, in fact, that he’d cry with them just as easily as he’d laugh with them, depending on their circumstances at the moment. And, of course, there would be a hug.
Although he won’t be there this time–Yuk’s journey ended on Nov. 18–there’s likely to be crying and laughing in equal measure at a celebration of his life, for which plans are pending. Donations to his family may be made to a GoFundMe page established for their benefit at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-the-wagner-family-funeral-expenses-for-yuk?qid=a20e3d66a45e400b80cbb9af6440d878. They wish to thank the many who have already offered donations and support.
In addition to his immediate family and his father, Ronald E. Wagner, Yuk is survived by two brothers, Doug (Toni) Wagner of Conifer, Colo., and Jerry (Susan) Wagner of Virginia Beach, Va.; and two nieces. He was preceded in death by his mother, Phyllis A. (Henninger) Wagner, in 2008.
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