College of American Pathologists
Printable Version

  In Memoriam


CAP Today




May 2012
Feature Story

Loyd R. Wagner, MD

Loyd R. Wagner, MD, president of the CAP from 1989 to 1991 and Pathologist of the Year in 1992, died March 25 at age 85.

Before becoming CAP president, Dr. Wagner served the College as vice president, secretary-treasurer, governor, speaker of the House of Delegates, and chair or vice chair of many councils and committees.

After his presidency, Dr. Wagner chaired the board of directors of the newly formed CAP political action committee (PathPAC), was a regional commissioner of the CAP Commission on Laboratory Accreditation, and was a member of the CAP 50th Anniversary Committee and the CAP History Editorial Board.

He was an owner and president of Physicians Laboratory as well as director of laboratories and director of the School of Medical Technology at McKennan Hospital, Sioux Falls, SD. He was also a clinical assistant professor of pathology at the University of South Dakota School of Medicine and an assistant clinical professor of pathology at Creighton University School of Medicine.

It was during his presidency—and at his urging—that pathology residents were first appointed to CAP committees.

“He was a very interesting man, very close to his family, a fair-minded person with high standards,” says Paul Bachner, MD, also a past president. “Loyd was very important to me personally. I was still a relatively young person in the College when I got to know him, and he was very supportive of younger pathologists; he mentored them in many ways.”

CAP president-elect Gene Herbek, MD, who was a state commissioner for the Laboratory Accreditation Program when Dr. Wagner was regional commissioner, also saw him as a role model. “He and Dr. Bill Hamlin were both icons,” Dr. Herbek says. “They really felt and acted as though they were the guardians of what was good for patients and physicians. They were trying to take care of their patients, and when it came to laboratory medicine, they didn’t take directives lying down. If they didn’t think they were appropriate, they would say so, spending hours in meetings with federal regulators, hospital administrators, and the Joint Commission.”

Dr. Wagner followed William B. Zeiler, MD, as CAP president. The two spent a lot of time in Washington for legislative hearings during the run-up to CLIA ’88.

“He was a mild-mannered sort of person, but very interested in government and very good at testifying,” Dr. Zeiler remembers. “Dr. Wagner did a great deal to help our position with Congress and the government generally.”

CAP manager Liz Cramer, who staffed the Planning and Priorities Committee when Dr. Wagner was chair, describes Dr. Wagner as “truly a gentleman,” formal and generous by nature. He was always “business first,” she says. Yet he sometimes showed his informal side. For example, when it was his task to choose a meeting site, he selected Sylvan Lake Lodge in Custer, SD, a beautiful, remote spot, “where everyone had a cabin with cots and a little fireplace, a tin shower enclosure, hooks on the walls for your clothes, and a screen door that slammed behind when you went out.”

For many years, Dr. Wagner coordinated the activities of the International Liaison Committee of Presidents (ILCP), a forum for officers of English-speaking pathology societies worldwide. The ILCP was a natural slot for someone like Dr. Wagner, who liked to say he had visited every continent.

Dr. Wagner was a leader in his church and many community organizations, co-founder of the Sioux Falls Community Blood Bank, and clinical consultant to the South Dakota Department of Health. He and Donna Wagner, who survives him, were married for 62 years. The couple had four children, 11 grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.