Colleges Mourn the Loss of Wagner ’19 – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Colleges Mourn the Loss of Wagner ’19

The Hobart and William Smith community mourns the loss of Courtney Wagner ’19, who died on Monday, Oct. 26. The following letter was sent by President Mark D. Gearan this morning.

To the Hobart and William Smith Community,

It is with great sadness that I write with the news that Courtney Wagner ’19 died last night at home, surrounded by her family. Courtney’s uplifting attitude, her joy in life and contagious smile have enlightened and engaged the Hobart and William Smith community since the spring of 2012 when, under the leadership of Head Coach Aliceann Wilber, the Heron soccer team “adopted” her through Team IMPACT. The non-profit works to improve the quality of life of children facing life-threatening illnesses; Courtney had battled an aggressive malignant brain tumor diagnosed in her freshman year of high school. 

Courtney graduated from Canandaigua Academy in the spring of 2015 and enrolled at HWS as a member of the Classes of 2019 this fall until her illness necessitated a return home. During her short time as an HWS student, Courtney’s character and determination were felt by her professors, classmates and floor-mates, her longstanding friends on the soccer team, and so many of us across campus.

The recipient of a Presidential Scholarship for leadership, Courtney was accepted early decision to William Smith and was the first student of the Classes of 2019 to be presented with her acceptance letter. In her application essay, Courtney credits others for her approach to life. “If it was not for the enormous love and support from all of those who have walked with me through my journey, I would not have the positive outlook that I do today. My soccer teammates, both on my high school team and my adopted college team, have shown me what teammates should be,” wrote Courtney. “My sincere hope is that I have been to them what they have been to me. I will continue to work from here forward to make each day matter, as each day is a gift.”

In high school, Courtney was a member of the National Honor Society, co-captain of the varsity soccer team, a member of the varsity basketball team, co-president of Interact Club, an ambassador for student orientation, and first clarinet in the wind ensemble. In 2013 she accompanied the William Smith soccer team to San Antonio, Texas, where the Herons won the NCAA Division III Women’s Soccer National Championship. To show their support, the soccer team dedicated its Saturday game to Courtney, wearing purple bands, Courtney’s favorite color. Likewise, the night campus has been illuminated with purple lights this week in solidarity with Courtney and her family.

I believe Heron Madeline Buckley ’15 described Courtney’s impact most appropriately: “To put it simply, she inspires us. Courtney reminds us that there is no limit to what we can achieve.”

A reminder to all students that support is available through the HWS Center for Counseling and Student Wellness, the Office of Spiritual Engagement, the Office of Student Affairs and the Deans Offices.

Our thoughts are with Courtney’s family.  We will keep the campus informed about services as information becomes available.


Mark D. Gearan