Cover photo for Margie Wagenknecht's Obituary
Margie Wagenknecht Profile Photo

Margie Wagenknecht

Margie Wagenknecht was a beautiful mixture of a polite, quiet, respectable lady, and an adventurous, you don’t know until you try, test your parent’s patience woman. She passed away on May 25th, 2021, of end-stage Alzheimers.

Margie spent almost every year of her life in Sedalia, Missouri. She faithfully attended Calvary Episcopal Church in downtown Sedalia and graduated Smith-Cotton in 1948.

Margie Ann Ghosen was born July 13, 1930, in Kansas City, MO, the only child of Mercedes Morse Ghosen and Joseph Thomas Ghosen. Her father entered the USA as a seventeen-year-old immigrant from Lebanon and perhaps created that fun-loving adventurous – you don’t know until you try attitude in Margie. Her mother, Mercedes, gave Margie smarts and determination.

Margie grew up as a child of the movies and two movie entrepreneurs who took their only child with them as they built their movie business. Her parents opened the first silent movie house in Sedalia, The Star, in 1927. The silent movie was accompanied down front by a live piano player to add appropriate drama and effect.

In 1936 they built The Uptown, the first commercial air-conditioned building in the Sedalia. The family eventually operated three downtown Sedalia theaters, The Star, The Uptown, and The Fox.

Later the family-operated other movie theaters in Sedalia; the Highway 50 Drive In (1949), State Fair Cinemas (1976), and lastly, the Galaxy Cinemas (1998). During the opening of the Galaxy, Margie would be nicknamed “Queen of the Flix” by a local TV station.

Margie attended Stephens College, a two-year all-girls college that prided itself on polishing ladies of distinction. One lady of distinction, Margie, was put on six months probation for riding on the back of a Harley Davidson motorcycle driven by a leather-wearing young farmer from Smithton, John Wagenknecht, her future husband. Ladies don’t engage in such behavior. Well, this adventurous young lady figured you don’t know unless you try.

This Stephens girl became an accomplished artist and piano player.  As Alzheimers gradually took much of her, she somehow could return to the piano to play from memory her favorites such as Fly Me to the Moon, Time After Time, and Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

She also attended the University of Missouri, eventually getting a teaching degree from Central Missouri State University. At age 22, Margie married John C. Wagenknecht, her husband of 65 years, at Calvary Episcopal Church on September 27, 1952.  Margie lived across the street from the Church and just walked across Broadway Avenue in her wedding dress to get married.  Her handsome and never met a stranger, husband John, passed away in 2017 from cancer.

Margie focused being a homemaker and raised three children – Seth, Janie, and Drew.

Margie’s sense of adventure meant she opened her home to a number of international students who were treated as members of their family.  Achim from Germany, Janek from Poland, Ze’ from Portugal, Abdu from Ghana.

Margie’s parents took on a larger well-respected movie chain, Commonwealth, as a business partner in the movies, to co-run the business.  After her parents passed away, Commonwealth was eventually sold to a larger chain.  This large national movie chain figured they could get this “housewife from Sedalia” to sell her half cheap.  They didn’t count on Margie being willing to “giving it a try.” Margie bought out the “sophisticated” movie chain in 1989.

Son Seth came home to run the family movie business, which at that time was a four-plex at State Fair.  Seth and his mother Margie later built the Galaxy on the site of their old Highway 50 Drive-In.  When built, Sedalia residents experienced one of the most technologically sophisticated movie theaters anywhere in the country.

Son Drew took over the running of the family farm. One of Margie’s greatest delights was to go to their cabin on the Lake of the Ozarks and have Drew captain the boat sightseeing around the lake.

Daughter Janie had a long career in international business. She got her love of all things international because of her mother, who encouraged her to apply for an international student exchange program. When Janie said she didn’t think she could get in, Margie, with the adventurer’s voice of experience, said, “You don’t know unless you try.”

Janie married David Dunn-Rankin, who together raised Margie’s two granddaughters Sarah (married to Zak Butler) and Rachel (married to Atticus Frank). Margie lived long enough to meet her two great-granddaughters, Lucy and Nora Frank.

Margie often would look at someone with a smile and twinkle in her eyes, but not say anything. She might be amused, she might be recalling a similar sense of adventure in her life, or she was just being a polite, gracious, sophisticated Stephens girl, making a stranger feel welcome. Her enigmatic smile would make the Mona Lisa jealous.

She is survived by her son Drew, daughter Janie (David) Dunn-Rankin, two granddaughters, Sarah (Zak) Butler and Rachel (Atticus) Frank, and two great-granddaughters Nora and Lucy Frank, sister-in-law Patty Wagenknecht. She is preceded in death by her husband John, brother-in-law Lynn, son Seth, parents Mercedes and Joseph, nephew Bill Wagenknecht, and niece Ann Wagenknecht Wilson

Services are at Calvary Episcopal Church in Sedalia on Tuesday, June 1st.  Visitation at 9 a.m. with the service at 10 a.m. with graveside burial to follow at Memorial Park Cemetery in Sedalia.

Friends may pay their respects and sign the book on Monday, May 31, 2021, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Heckart Funeral Home.

The family suggests the following as potential donations in honor of Margie:  Calvary Episcopal Church, The Seth Wagenknecht Scholarship with the Sedalia School District Foundation, Sedalia Downtown Development Inc – Uptown Movie Theater Restoration Fund.  Send to: Heckart Funeral Home, 903 South Ohio, Sedalia, MO, 65301, who will make sure all the checks go to the right places.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Margie Wagenknecht, please visit our flower store.


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