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Mayor Wagner’s Wife Dies of Cancer

Mar. 2, 1964 - Mrs. Susan Wagner, wife of New York City Mayor Robert Wagner, died today of lung cancer. She was 54 years old. She had been ill for nearly a year, but the seriousness of her illness had been kept secret.

She died at 12:35 p.m. in Gracie Mansion, the Mayor’s residence. Her husband and two sons were with her at the time.

Flags at the mansion and throughout the city immediately were lowered to half-staff. A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church. Burial will be in the Wagner family plot in Old Calvary Cemetery, Long Island City, Queens. Old Calvary is a Roman Catholic Cemetery. Mrs. Wagner, a Presbyterian, specifically had asked to be buried in the Wagner family plot there. Necessary arrangements with the Roman Catholic Church were completed before her death.

The lung cancer was diagnosed last May during a check-up at St. Luke’s Hospital. The cancer was already far advanced, and since then there had been repeated medical treatments including the use of cobalt radiation.

Mrs. Wagner’s condition took a turn for the worse over the weekend. This morning, an aide to the Mayor disclosed that her illness was critical and that she was not expected to live through the day.

Shortly before Mrs. Wagner died, the Mayor received a telephone call from President Johnson. The President expressed his and Mrs. Johnson’s sympathy and said he was prepared “to do anything in the world” to help him.

When the news of Mrs. Wagner’s death was received at the White House, Mr. Johnson sent a message of condolence to the Mayor, saying in part: “Lady Bird and I are shocked by the death of Susan. I know of your deep devotion for her and the support and strength she has been to you in your public and private life. Our hearts go out to you on this sad occasion.”

Governor Rockefeller told a news conference today that this was “one of the saddest days for all New Yorkers that we have had in a long time.” He also called the Mayor to offer his sympathy. The Governor said he would suspend his campaign in New Hampshire to attend Mrs. Wagner’s funeral.


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