When Thomas Van Wagner died, he hadn't had a drink in over 47 years. Yet the emphasis on recovery in his obituary showed just how important his sobriety was in his life.
According to his son, Van Wagner dedicated his life to helping other people recovery from addiction after he joined Alcoholics Anonymous in 1968. He was on the board of directors for the long Island Council on Alcoholism and later served as President of the board of directors of the New York State Council on Alcoholism. He also helped to found Veritas Villa, a treatment center in upstate New York.
Van Wagner's son, John, said that sobriety remained a life-long commitment. Even later in life he was leary of taking medications that had a risk for addiction, his son said.
Thomas Van Wagner died last week at the age of 90. His obituary ran in New Jersey's Newsday paper, with the headline “Thomas Van Wagner, 90, devoted his life to alcoholism recovery.”