Wagler ‘touched so many lives’

Shannon Hall

Brandon Wagler
Brandon Wagler

Brandon Wagler told his mother his plans for the future Sept. 28.

“I stay(ed) up until he came home,” said Marla Wagler, Brandon’s mother. “He told me he was making plans to start an accounting firm with two of his friends.”

Brandon died the following morning in a car accident. His 12-year-old brother Jacob was also in the car and received multiple stitches.

The freshman commuted from USI to his family’s house in Loogootee, which is about an hour and a half away.

Brandon went to school Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and then worked three days at his father’s hardware store, where he kept track of the books.

Marla said his love for math is why he decided to be an accounting major at USI.

He decided to live at home because he wanted to stay close to his family.

“He was like ‘Mom, I don’t know my roommates,’ and he seemed nervous,” she said.

Once Brandon decided to stay at home, he became much more excited for college, she said.

“It was working out,” Marla said.

Brandon, who was the oldest of four, loved his family.

“Brandon took his little brother fishing whenever he could after work this summer,” Marla said.

After his death, his parents discovered that Jacob wrote a paper a year ago about if he could be with anybody in the world for a day, it would be Brandon.

John Stoll, who was a mentor to Brandon, said he loved all of his siblings, but he looked after Jacob at school.

Jacob was in elementary school when Brandon was in high school, and with connecting buildings and a small town, it was easy for Brandon to make sure Jacob was doing all right.

“He was always checking up on Jacob,” Stoll said.

He was sweet-natured and always had a smile on his face.

“Some kids rebel, but he never did. He never went against our wishes,” Marla said. “We never had to discipline him.”

While she considered Brandon shy, Marla discovered something about him after he died.

“He had a group of about 20 guys who have supported us,” she said. “I realized he has touched so many lives.”

Randy, Brandon’s father, agreed.

“Just the amount of people who told us stories about him the past week …,” Randy said. “He had a great influence on his classmates.”

In high school, Brandon played baseball and basketball.

Randy kept records for the baseball team. Brandon was a pitcher and a short stop.

“It was awesome to intertwine with the baseball team during the games and talk to him and know what he’s thinking,” Randy said.

While he loved baseball, he excelled in other sports as well.

Brandon was the basketball team captain.

“I’ve seen more games of his than I can count,” Stoll said. “Brandon didn’t get a lot of playing time (in basketball) until his senior year. But, he paid his dues.”

Stoll said Brandon made the most of each game – his senior year he had a great 3-point shot, which helped the team make it to the section championship.

But, Brandon didn’t talk a lot, he said.

“When he said something, he had something to say,” Stoll said.

One of Brandon’s good friends, Ashton Wagler, said Brandon was the definition of the “all-around” star.

“Every sport he played, he had success,” Ashton said. ” He would pick up golfing and go and beat the entire golf team on a given day.”

Ashton said the night before he died, Brandon was throwing a football and made a “gorgeous” spiral.

“Something so simple, but we all couldn’t believe how effortless it was to him,” Ashton said. “I asked him several times to do it again, just so I could watch him throw.”

Ashton met Brandon through church a while back, but Brandon was just baptized this spring.

“He was a man of God, and I always admired how he could say ‘no’ to many things other teenagers struggle with on a daily basis,” Ashton said.

Brandon had a laugh that was contagious and hilarious, Ashton said.

“I know people usually have many good things to say about people who have passed on, but I really do mean all of this,” Ashton said. “He had the most bright future of all us friends. He was going to be special when he grew up. I always was jealous of all the talent he possessed. That’s the thing I’ll remember most, how talented this young man was. Absolute stud. We’re going to miss him.”