WAGNER, MARGARET W. (19 Oct. 1892-19 Aug. 1984), innovative director of the BENJAMIN ROSE INSTITUTE for 29 years, was born in Cleveland to financier Frank B. and May Warnock Wagner. She graduated from HATHAWAY BROWN SCHOOL in 1910 and studied at Miss Spence's School in New York, Finch College, and the School of Applied Social Sciences at Western Reserve University. Her career in social work began in 1912, volunteering in the children's division of Lakeside Hospital as a member of the JR. LEAGUE OF CLEVELAND. She became interested in working with handicapped children, was the first social worker hired by the Assoc. for the Crippled & Disabled, and urged the city's director of public welfare, DUDLEY S. BLOSSOM, to establish a social-service department at City Hospital, joining the hospital to administer the new program in 1924.
In 1930, Wagner became executive secretary of the Benjamin Rose Institute, making it an advocate for seniors and expanding its services. She studied the needs of the elderly in the community and established new institutions to meet those needs, such as the BENJAMIN ROSE HOSPITAL for the elderly (1953). The institute also operated residential and nursing homes to house senior citizens. After her retirement in 1959, Wagner helped design the institute's modern nursing home, built and named for her in 1961 (See MARGARET WAGNER HOUSE). Wagner was active in social-work organizations locally and nationally, initiated Cleveland Welfare Fed.'s first committee on the elderly, and received many awards. She was unmarried and was buried in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.