Charles S. Wagner, who rose from toolmaker to president of Lockheed-California Co. and guided the aircraft manufacturer's return to producing commercial planes, has died. He was 85.
Wagner, who headed Lockheed during development of the L-1011 Tristar wide-body airplane, died Saturday in Del Mar after a lengthy illness, the company announced.
He was named president of Lockheed-California and group vice president of Lockheed Aircraft Corp. in 1965 and remained in the post until his retirement in 1971.
During his tenure, Wagner prodded the company's move away from military aircraft and back to making planes for civilian airlines.
The wooden toolbox he had used as a Lockheed toolmaker in 1936 remained in his office throughout his presidency as a reminder of his Horatio Alger rise in the company.
Wagner moved to California from Lockheed-Georgia Co. in Marietta, Ga., where he had served as vice president and program director for the C-141 Starlifter, the world's first all-jet military transport.
Born in San Antonio, Wagner grew up in Bakersfield, where he worked odd jobs, including stints as an oil field roustabout and a hearse driver. He studied at Bakersfield Junior College and USC and later at the Harvard University Graduate School of Business Administration.
He began his toolmaking job in Burbank and within 10 years rose to chief tool engineer. In 1951, Wagner was named chief manufacturing engineer, and in 1957, he became manufacturing manager. Two years later he was named to the corporate staff as executive assistant to the executive vice president. He worked in Georgia from 1961 to 1965.
Wagner is survived by his wife, Garnet; a daughter, Carole Boersma of Simi Valley; and two sons, Charles of Acworth, Ga., and John of Bakersfield.