Lois Wagner was employed with the Cañon City School District for 28 years as school librarian at Harrison Elementary School before transferring to Skyline. She retired in 2001 and passed away Jan. 6 at the age of 71.
"One of the things that struck me was her kindness in general -- but when she was shot, she taught our staff about forgiveness and what forgiveness is really about," said Skyline Health Tech Judy Near, who worked with Wagner for about 12 years. "She forgave the guy that shot her almost instantly, and it just made me think about forgiveness in my life."
Wagner was shot during an attempted robbery at the Citadel Mall in Colorado Springs in February 1999. She endured several facial and oral surgeries and dental treatments in the following 11 years.
"I think our staff took away a lot from her about healing and forgiveness," Near said. "Lois was amazing, just an amazing person."
Wagner also was a longtime friend and mentor to Monica McGowan, Skyline School's library and media technician.
"She's the one who prompted me into going back to school and getting my library certification," McGowan said. "I was working as a literacy aid here, and she kind of groomed me and got me into this job."
The mural, painted during the summer by McGowan's husband, Ken, depicts Wagner's life and what she liked to do with her family, she said.
Ken said Wagner's husband, Charlie, offered input and ideas for the mural.
"The mountain scene was perfect because they loved being in the outdoors," Monica said. "It also fits with our Colorado theme."
She said Wagner was the type of person who always wanted to be teaching.
"We hope to use this mural to be part of our Colorado unit," she said. "We've got the Colorado Blue Spruce in there, and we have the Skyline eagle, which is our mascot, so there is a lot of symbolism in this mural, and there's a lot of real deep feeling."
Students and staff will enjoy the mural when reading or spending time in the library's reading pit. McGowan will see the mural and remember her friend and predecessor every day.
"It just takes you in the minute you walk in the library -- it's beautiful," Near said. "It's very fitting for the lady it was made for."
Wagner was a 1957 graduate of Cañon City High School and was active in the National Honor Society, Tiger Tales variety shows, Thespians Society, CCHS Melodettes and was a Girl's State Representative in 1956. She also sang in the community All Church Choir and was a member of Rainbow for Girls.
She is survived by her husband of 52 years, Charles Wagner, and daughters, Valerie Anne Wagner of Palm Springs, Calif., Janice Lea Yuncker of Cañon City, Crystal Sue (Jim) Nicholson of Winnemucca, Nev., and Rebecca Kay (Chris) Vodopich of Cañon City and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
The community is invited to the Lois Wagner Memorial mural dedication at 2 p.m. Saturday at the school, 2855 N. Ninth St. Several guest speakers are slated to speak, including two former Skyline principals and cookies and punch will be served.