Robert F. Wagner Jr. (deputy mayor)

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Robert Ferdinand Wagner III (January 6, 1944 – November 15, 1993), also known as Robert (Bobby) Ferdinand Wagner III, was a noted New York City civic leader who served as the Deputy Mayor of the City of New York, and President of the New York City Board of Education. He is often confused with his father of the same name, Robert F. Wagner Jr., who served as Manhattan Borough President and Mayor of the City of New York during Robert III’s youth. He was also the grandson of Senator Robert Ferdinand Wagner I. He changed his name to Robert F. Wagner Jr. after his father dropped the “Jr”.


Robert III was the son of Robert Ferdinand Wagner II and his first wife Susan. Robert III was nine years old when his father, the Manhattan Borough President, was elected to the first of three terms as the Mayor of The City of New York. He was educated at the Buckley School in Manhattan, Phillips Exeter Academy, graduated from Harvard University in 1965, studied abroad at the University of Sussex, and then earned an MPA with a concentration in Urban Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.[1]

Public service[edit]

Wagner was an elected City Councilman-at-large in Manhattan. He lost the Democratic primary for Manhattan Borough President (his father's old job) to Andrew Stein in 1977, which seemingly ended the possibility of Wagner ascending to higher elected office. He served as Deputy Mayor for Policy, Head of the City Planning Commission, Head of the Health and Hospitals Commission, and President of the New York City Board of Education under New York City Mayor Edward Koch. More noteworthy, Wagner served as a Senior Policy Adviser to New York City mayors and New York governors for over twenty years. Primarily a Democrat, he supported Republican-Liberal Rudolph Giuliani in his candidacy for mayor against David Dinkins. At the time of his death, Wagner was serving as Senior Policy Adviser to Mayor-Elect Rudolph Giuliani of New York City, who was expected to return Mr. Wagner to his post as a Deputy Mayor; was chairman of the civic group Citizens Union; was vice-president of the polling organization LH Research; and had expressed an interest in joining the Democratic Presidential administration of Bill Clinton in an urban policy capacity - his expertise.


On November 15, 1993, Wagner died from comlications due to AIDS in San Antonio, Texas, while researching a book he was writing on urban America. He had complained of flu-like symptoms to friends in the two days preceding his death, but had not sought medical treatment. He was survived by his younger brother Duncan.[citation needed] A memorial service was held for him at St. Patrick's Cathedral.[2]


  1. ^ Roberts, Sam (November 16, 1993). "Robert Wagner Jr., Ex-Deputy Mayor, Found Dead at 49". The New York Times.
  2. ^ Roberts, Sam (November 17, 1993). "Robert F. Wagner Jr., Former Deputy Mayor and School Board Chief, Dies at 49". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-07-20. Robert F. Wagner Jr., the gentle 49-year-old scion of a family that defined New York politics for three generations, died suddenly on Monday in a hotel room in Texas, where he was researching a book on urban America. An autopsy performed yesterday morning was inconclusive, and it may take several weeks before tissue samples can be used to determine the cause of the former New York City deputy mayor's sudden death in San Antonio, the chief medical investigator there said.