Roma Christina (Stiff) Wagner died at home in Madison, WI with her daughters by her bedside. She was born on December 27, 1920 to Forest Lillie (Cawley) and Oris Hutson Stiff in rural Roanoke, Illinois. During her childhood she lived in and around Peoria, Illinois, graduating from Manual Training High School, Peoria, 1938.
Roma first worked at Peoria Sandblast Company as a secretary. During WWII, she worked at the Selective Service Peoria City Board No. 2. After that she was employed by The Equitable Life Assurance Society of New York (now AXA Equitable) in Peoria.
On October 18, 1952, she married Frederic Wagner and became a homemaker. A daughter, Christina May, was born May 28, 1953, and soon after, Fred’s daughter from his first marriage, Fern Lee, joined the family. Roma was a Girl Scout Leader for several years and became an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary No. 212, Hanna City, IL.
After her family was grown up, Roma returned to work at the Equitable and retired in 1977. In 1978, she began working for Travelers Insurance, where she was employed for four years.
Fred passed away on September 12, 2001 and Roma moved to Madison, Wisconsin where she lived with her daughter, Christina.
Roma was a member of First United Methodist Church, Peoria for over 50 years until transferring her membership to Trinity United Methodist Church, Madison.
She was preceded in death by her husband, parents, sister and brother-in-law, Eileen and Harold Bieringer, brother and sister-in-law, Wilbur and Gladys (Withrow) Stiff, sister-in-laws, Shirley Gibson, June Barker and Phyllis Sutton, brother-in-law, Dean Wagner, and son-in-law, John Ohliger.
She is survived by her daughters, Christina M. Wagner (Wesley Beshears) of Madison and Fern Lee (Markley Madden) Spencer of Freeport, Florida; granddaughters, Debra M. Spencer of Elmwood, IL and Juli D. (Mark) Crider of Rydal, Georgia; great-grandchildren, Maxwell Spencer, Bailey Spencer and Isabella Crider; and several nieces and nephews, including Gerry F. (Kim) Bieringer of Melbourne, Florida, Betty Jane (Earl) Forshee of El Dorado Hills, CA, Mary Lou Flesh (David) of San Diego, CA, and Ashford (Brandy Creel) Todd of Young Harris, GA. She is also survived by her sister-in-law, Susan Wagner of Lacey, Washington.
Before Roma married, some of her happiest times were spent with her nephew, Gerry, with whom Roma developed a very special, close life-long relationship. After she and Fred retired, they both enjoyed several happy years with their great-grandson, Maxwell, who spent many hours in their care when he was growing up.
Graveside services and burial will be at Smithville Cemetery, near Hanna City, IL on Saturday, January 23, 2021 at 11am. Attendees are expected to wear masks and social distance to protect one another from COVID-19. There will be an online (zoom) memorial service on with Pastor Breanna Illene of Trinity United Methodist Church presiding at a future date TBA. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Trinity United Methodist Church of Madison, WI or Smithville Cemetery. The family wishes to thank Roma’s doctor, Dr. Jennifer Everton, and Agrace Hospice for their dedicated care for Roma. Special thanks to our many friends, especially Karen Banaszak and Jeff Reinke, for all of their help.
Roma was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend who taught us how to live with kindness and integrity. Shortly before her death, she told us that her “last words” (which she saw on the computer of a hospice worker) were to be “Be kind when possible. It is always possible.”
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