William V. Widener

Published 9:06 am Wednesday, May 17, 2023

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Mr. William V. Widener, age 85, passed away Tuesday, May 16, 2023, at his home in Climax, Georgia.  Services for Mr. Widener will be held at 11:00 a.m., Friday, May 19, 2023, at First Baptist Church in Bainbridge.  The Rev. Chris Humphrey will officiate.  Interment will follow in Oak City Cemetery.  Lenny Widener, Joe Widener, Forrest Elkins, Jimmy Pitisci, and Russell Gilliam will serve as pallbearers.  The family will receive friends after the service at Oak City Cemetery.                                             

William Vesta Widener was born January 14, 1938, in Bainbridge, Georgia, to Lee Vesta Widener and Mae Dee Harrell Widener.  William Widener was an outstanding athlete and musician at Bainbridge High School. He went on to great heights as a band director and Bainbridge swim coach. A 1956 Bainbridge High School graduate, Widener, won the region pole vault and high jump championships with the BHS track and field team in 1956. His winning pole vault was 12 feet and his winning high jump was 6 feet. He was city of Bainbridge Recreation Department swim coach swimming instructor, water safety instructor, lifeguard, pool manager, swimming and diving instructor and meet director for all home meets from 1953 to 1980. Widener also organized the first Bainbridge swim team and swim club in 1954 and the first parents and booster swim club in 1955. He organized the annual Inland Port Meet in 1964 and developed and coached several hundred All State swimmers from the Bainbridge Recreation Department and Bainbridge Decatur County YMCA. Thousands of young people have participated in his aquatic programs. He taught swimming classes for adults and toddlers at Bainbridge State College from 1980 to 1983.  William also proudly served in the United States Army, where he played in the Army Band.   Widener’s years as a musician and Bainbridge High School Band director are equally impressive. He was a member of the District Honor Band, the Georgia All State Band, the National Future Farmers of America (FFA) Band, and the Georgia All State Orchestra. He also won first place in the male vocal quartet at the literary meet in 1956. He earned a Florida State University School of Music scholarship. While there, he was a member of the university’s award-winning Marching Chiefs Band and all instrumental ensembles. He earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree from FSU. Before returning home to become the Bainbridge High School band director, Widener was band director in Melbourne, Fla., from 1960 to 1962. He retired in 1992.   Widener was Decatur County STAR Teacher of the Year in 1978, a Decatur County Man of the Year finalist in 1982 and inducted into the Decatur County Sports Hall of Fame in 2014.  William served as Cantor for the congregation at Temple Beth El for many years. William married the love of his life, Beverly Lamb Widener.  They were married 42 years before her death in 2021.   He was a member of First Baptist Church of Bainbridge.  William stayed busy after his retirement until his health started to fail.  William Widener loved his family and served his community.  He will be deeply missed.

Mr. Widener is survived by his sisters-in-law, Juanita Widener and Liz Widener and brother-in-law, Willie Lamb of Columbus, Georgia.  He was the loving uncle to many nieces, nephews and their families.  William was preceded in death by his parents, Lee Vesta and Mae Dee Harrell Widener; wife Beverly Lamb Widener; and brothers and sisters, Leonard Widener, Newton Widener, retired Lieutenant Commander Harrell Lee Widener, Mary Ruth Widener Gilliam and Betty Widener Elkins.

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Memorial donations may be sent to the Widener Scholarship Fund, Bainbridge College Foundation, 2500 East Shotwell Street, Bainbridge, Georgia 39819, attn: Janice Baty.

On-line condolences may be sent at www.Coxfuneral.net.  Cox Funeral Home in charge of arrangements.