He graduated from OU with a Bachelor of Science degree in geology in 1956.
After graduating, Mr. Wagner brought his oil-finding talents to the Permian Basin where he worked for Amerada Hess and later in 1958 for J. E. Jones Drilling Company. He met Jack E. Brown, who would be his business partner for nearly 50 years. On April 1, 1962, Mr. Wagner, Mr. Brown and the late Deane Stoltz started the independent oil and gas exploration and production partnership Stoltz, Wagner & Brown, on a handshake. Over the years, the company that today is Wagner & Brown, Ltd., achieved national recognition as an aggressive and successful operator and producer of oil and natural gas in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Louisiana, Michigan, Kansas, Wyoming and Mississippi.
Mr. Wagner served on the boards of many corporate and charitable entities including the Texas Medical Center, Chase Bank of Texas, Pennzoil Corporation, Rexene, El Paso Chemical, the Kelsey-Seybold Clinic, and Midland Memorial Hospital. He served on the Board of Visitors of the International Programs Center at the University of Oklahoma, the McDonald Observatory of the University of Texas at Austin, and on the Development Board of the University of Texas of the Permian Basin (UTPB). The Wagners have been dedicated and generous supporters of the University of Oklahoma and in 2010 the University opened Lissa and Cy Wagner Hall on the Norman campus to consolidate and house all student academic services. In 1986, the Wagners were major donors to the establishment of the Center for Energy and Economic Diversification at UTPB, and in 2007 the two made a Founders gift to help create the Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center at UTPB.
Mr. Wagner is survived by his wife, Lissa Noël Wagner of Midland; a son Adam Wagner and his wife Carol and their daughter Lucy, of Austin, TX; a daughter Leigh Wagner of Delray Beach, FL; daughters Erin McMaster and Kendal Mitchel, a son Wes Wagner and his wife Laura Ann, and their children Lauren, Russell and Travis, of Midland, TX, a daughter Sherwood Wagner and her son Cy, of Dallas, TX; and a son Chip Wagner and his wife Kelly, and their children Noël and Ellen, of Fort Worth, TX.