HUDSON -- Hudsonites love history.

On March 7 Hudson lost a beloved figure who was ingrained in the city's history for nearly 100 years.

Minnie A. Wagner, 97, the last living member of the original Merino family, died March 7 surrounded by the family she watched grow over the years.

Mrs. Wagner was born in 1919 and if not the oldest person born and still living in Hudson, she was certainly close to it.

"There were seven kids in the family and they were all born in the Baldwin-Buss-Merino house on the Village Green," according to Mrs. Wagner's son, Dennis. "Grandpa bought the house is 1902."

Mrs. Wagner was also friends with other iconic Hudsonites such as Dante Lavelli, who was best friends with her brother, Rich, and Ada Cooper Miller, who used to babysit Dennis and his sister, Laurie.

"Mom and Rich and Dante grew up playing on the Village Green," Wagner said. "They just named First Street, in front of the old wine shop, Merino Way."

For those who did not grow up with her, Mrs. Wagner was probably best known for running the Reserve Inn with her husband Leo, from 1958 to 2012.

Before opening the Reserve Inn, Leo owned the Tip Top restaurant in Stow and another in Twinsburg.

"It [the Tip Top] was about the size of a one-car garage," Wagner remembers. "It had a milkshake machine, a grill and four stools at the counter, he told me."

The Tip Tops were sold and the Reserve Inn was opened in 1958.

"Mom took care of the front of the house, she was the hostess," Wagner said. "And dad took care of the back of the house. He was the cook and took care of the kitchen and everything."

Knowing Mrs. Wagner was a plus among the dining public, according to Wagner.

"If you knew her, you never had to worry about reservations," Wagner said. "You came in and you always had a table."

Dennis started working with his parents at the Reserve Inn in 1969 and after he married his wife, Diane, she worked at the restaurant also.

"She was a wonderful lady, very strong and just always happy," Diane said. "Even at the end she made all the nurses smile at hospice and was a great, great person."

Diane remembered a story about Mrs. Wagner and her brother Rich, who owned Merino's Beer and Wine.

"They both had their tonsils taken out on the from porch on the ironing board," Diane said. "Back in that day the doc came to the house, took the tonsils out and away they went."

When not at the restaurant Mrs. Wagner could be seen on the area links or at a nearby bowling alley.

"She loved to play golf and was on several bowling leagues around town," Wagner said. "Her and Ada were on the same bowling team for years."

Mrs. Wagner finally hung her clubs up around the age of 88, Dennis said. However, she could still be seen squeezing in a few holes from time to time, he added.

A golfing buddy and friend of the family was Frank Youngwerth, the host and producer of Hudson Community Television's "Good Day in Hudson" and a variety of other programs.

"I got to be good friends with both Minnie and Rich. Rich and I were very close," Youngwerth said. "And I interviewed Minnie so many times, it was unreal."

Youngwerth gave Mrs. Wagner's eulogy March 13.

"One thing I can say about Minnie is she was happy, always smiling and loved to chuckle." Youngwerth said. "She was just a sweet lady and always, always happy."

Youngwerth knew Mrs. Wagner and her family for about 22 years, he said.

Another activity Mrs. Wagner enjoyed was the Memorial Day Parades, Youngwerth remembered. Her son would have a small party for close friends and family and then they would get together and watch the parade. Youngwerth was often in the parades as a member of various organizations, he said.

"Whenever it went by the Reserve Inn, I'd get off the car of whatever I was on and go over to Minnie and give her a big hug and kiss and then run back to get on whatever vehicle I was on for the parade," he said. "I totally loved to do that. She always appreciated that, and I would have felt terrible if I had just waved to her."

Mrs. Wagner was preceded in death by her husband Leo in 1993, her parents, Gaetano and Grace Merino (Carano), sister Celia Dzuroff, brothers Fred, Albert, William, Arthur and Richard Merino.

Mrs. Wagner is survived by her daughter, Laurie Howell, her son Dennis (Diane Topper), her granddaughter, Tracey Vaughn (Kevin) and the love of her life, great grandson, Griffin Vaughn.

Minnie is also survived by her beloved cat, "Jennie" who was always by her side.

"Minnie was probably one of the nicest people you'll ever meet. Everybody thought the world of her," Youngwerth said. "I don't know anyone who did not particularly like her, and I don't know anyone who ever said anything bad about her. There was nothing about Minnie that people didn't like. She was very, very, very friendly and giving and everybody loved her."


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