Jerry Lee “Coach” Widder

December 25, 1937 ‒ April 24, 2020

Bellville, Ohio
Formerly of Marion, Ohio

BELLVILLE:Jerry Lee Widder “Coach” passed away on Friday April 24, 2020 surrounded by his loving family.  He was born to Kenneth and Rosalie (Cunningham) Widder in Dover on December 25, 1937.  With the death of his mother at 4 days old and his father serving active duty in the United States Army, he was raised by grandparents, Ralph and Margarite Cunningham in Newcomerstown.

He graduated from Newcomerstown High School in 1955 and attended one year at Kent State University.

He met the love of his life at a Grange Youth Group meeting in August of 1957 and he married Judy Dupler on August 24, 1958.   They celebrated 61 ½ years together.

In the early years of their marriage, Jerry volunteered to coach 7th & 8th grade football in Newcomerstown and later volunteered at the varsity level.  The love of coaching sent him back to school, first were night classes at the first branch of Kent State University in New Philadelphia.  With 3 children in tow, he and Judy moved to Kent so that he could pursue his degree in Education.  His first teaching/coaching job was at Northmor High School in 1966.  He then spent his education/coaching career at Marion Catholic, Clear Fork and Elgin High Schools, and Ohio Wesleyan University, spanning 39 years total.

In 1990 he earned his Master’s Degree in Sports Management at the United States Sports Academy in Daphne, AL.

He enjoyed coaching numerous sports, football, baseball, boys and girls basketball and track.  His teams won numerous league titles and to qualify for the state playoffs. Coach received many accolades during his career, in 1988 he was Division IV Football Coach of the Year; in 2004 he received the Sportsmanship, Ethics and Integrity Award from the OIAAA;  in 2006 he was inducted into the Ohio Athletic Administrator Association Hall of Fame, and numerous others.

Survivors include his wife Judy, children:  Jill Roseanne (Tim) Brafford, Jerri Michele (Randy) Golden and Terry Dean (Laura) Widder; grandchildren:  Jessica Brokaw, Jennifer (Mark) Porter, Jordan Wells, Lindsay Golden, Whitney Golden, Adrianne (Jeremy) Werner,  Kate Markham, Jack (Hannah) Markham, Bethany (Shaun) Hickey;  great grandchildren:  Mason Oswalt, Kaleb and Jayna Porter, Carter, Ella, Cora Werner, Sylvie Werner due in June, Warren Markham and baby brother due in September, Kyla and Kayden Brafford, Mallie Hickey;  brother: Tom (Judy) Widder of Moorefield, W. VA; brother-in-law: Gary Roof, Carrollton; sister-in-law: Stephanie Widder, Canton, and numerous nieces and nephews.

He was a 35+ year member of First Presbyterian Church in Marion where he has served as a Deacon and Elder.

When he wasn’t coaching, he loved to fish. For many years the family vacationed in Ontario, Canada. First with the Northmor High School FFA, spending years with beloved friends, Don and Jean Seiter and family.  During his football coaching years, he also took his upcoming Senior players to Canada, as he always referred to his teams as family.

Proceeded in death by:  grandparents; parents; mother-in-law; Lillian Hall; brother, Frank Widder and sister, Sonja Roof; uncles Charles and Lloyd Cunningham and their wives.

Jerry’s family would like to thank Ohio Health Hospice and Freedom Care for the compassionate and wonderful care he received.

The qualities of a man can be seen in the goals, dreams, and aspirations he set not only for himself but for his family. Jerry lived a life by setting an example for all.  He believed in being a hard worker, and a respectful individual on and off the field.  Jerry exhibited compassion in his community, positivity with his peers and demonstrated sportsmanship in all aspects of his life.  Jerry loved coaching.  He touched many lives and formed lasting and treasured relationships in his 39 years of coaching.  He took great pride in his family and in his teams which speaks to the legacy he leaves behind.  His was a happy life and a life well lived.

It is in that spirit, The “Jerry Widder Hustle with Heart” Scholarship was formed.  In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to help continue support for athletes in Coach Widder’s honor at First Knox Bank in Bellville or Ohio Health Hospice, checks may be mailed to Snyder Funeral Home, P.O. Box 3085 Mansfield, Ohio 44904

A Celebration of Life Service will be held Sunday, July 12, 2020 at 3 pm at Pleasant Hill Golf Course, 4089 Pleasant Hill Rd, Perrysville.  Pastors Micah Pelkey and Robert Howard will speak.  A time of fellowship will follow.

You were a teacher, a preacher
A mother, a father
A lot less taker than giver
A keeper of secrets
And constantly making
Believers outta quitters
For all of your time
And your heart and your soul
You deserve a lot more than a toast
But here’s to you, and thanks again
We’ll never forget you coach


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  • Sorry to hear of the loss of Jerry. We have know Jerry for years and always had wonderful visits over the years when our paths crossed. Praying for the family at this difficult time. He was a good friend to us and many who knew him.

  • Jerry Widder was everything we believed him to be. He was a man of virtue, of high moral character , a man whose talents and hard work served as a model for all who came in contact with him

  • When I name my favorite teachers, I had 2. One was from elementary school, but the other one was Coach Widder. He was my American History, Government teacher at Northmor HS (class of 1971). I loved his style of teaching. He was serious, yet had a dry sense of humor. He brought out the best in us, and I always wanted to do my best work for him. I remember that he often used the current news and we’d discuss the implications of it in class. Or he’d play a current song (for example: “Signs”, or “The
    Fighter” and we’d discuss it. He was one of the only teachers that made me learn to think for myself and defend why I believed what I believed. Of course, he was our head football coach, and we had several excellent seasons under his leadership. I was in the marching band, and it was an exciting time! We also attended the same church (Iberia United Presbyterian) during that time. He was very involved in his support of our youth group, and in leadership. The last time I saw Coach was at our classes 40th reunion. He seemed to remember everyone that was there, and he was fondly greeted and “lauded”.

    Prayers for peace and God’s comfort are with Judy and his family. He was one of a kind.

  • As a former player of coach Widder. He made me the man I’m today. He told me the first game I started for him.”get up I’ll tell you when your hurt”. The following year he move to Marion Catholic. The first play of the game his nose guard unloaded on me. He said welcome to Marion Catholic from Coach Widder! The next morning the phone rang it was Coach Widder checking on me.
    This was the man he was he had a job to do but he was always thinking of your well being.
    As time passed we made many trips to Canada as families. He alway has a plan and wanted the week memorable. It was! Thanks Coach!

  • So very sorry for your loss. It sounds as though he was a wonderful person and leaves you with some fantastic memories. I only know his grandkids and they are great, as well. So, he is leaving quite a legacy. Many prayers for comfort and peace in the days and months ahead.

  • So sorry for your loss! Coach’s death can only be characterized as the ” Passing of a Legend-RIP!
    Coach Jerry Widder & his wonderful wife Judy & kids came to Marion Catholic our Senior year (1971)! We went undefeated that season, MOAC Champions and the rest was history, including his mark on students and staff as an incredible role model, colleague, teacher & mentor in many schools and districts around Central Ohio! *(Northmor, Marion Catholic, Clearfork, Elgin, Ohio Wesleyan n more) Big hole in the Universe to fill w this one! RIP Coach & condolences Mrs.Judy & Family!
    ☘️Irish eyes shed a tear today!😪

  • Not only did Ohio loose a Hall of Fame Coach but lost a Hall of Fame Human Being. Coach was what a Christian Man was all about. I got to meet Coach through my best friend in college and got to spend several years in Canada on family vacations. As a young coach he taught me what a man was supposed to be and how you should treat other people. My heart and prayers go out to Judy and the family. You guys will always be in my Memories of the great times we had together.

  • Jerry was an outstanding teacher and coach as well as an outstanding individual and friend. He was one of the most respected coaches both by his players and fellow coaches. He will be missed, Condolences to the family.

  • Prayers for comfort at this time! He certainly lived a great and inspiring life! Cherish all your wonderful memories as I am sure you have many! Sincere sympathy!

  • Judy and family, My heartfelt sympathies on your loss of Jerry. You and Jerry always meant so much to our family over the years. My Mom and Dad just loved both of you and had so many great memories of Heller Dr. Jerry was always a great friend and mentor to me when I was growing up. So many memories of me tagging along with him going to games. My heart is heavy today for all of you, and I pray for God’s blessings on all of you. Jerry truly lived his life as God intended us to live! We send our love to all of you! Whit and Beth Parks

  • To Coach…and it will always be Coach….I will sure miss you.

    I’m not surprised you put it into your game plan to go on a Friday; that was always a special day of the week for you ! To Judy and the entire Widder family we offer our deepest sympathy.

    I will miss seeing coach at random basketball games, we always would review how he was then, how I was then… and I’d always say the same thing I’m going to say now…”Thank you Coach”…and I’d start to say something about what an influence he was…and he would get that twinkle in his eye…like…you can stop and listen now. So I would and he would say….it was nothing, in his humble way…and we would move on. But I knew, and he knew how special he was to me, and how he helped me grow up…but NEVER out of the Valley. Go Colts !

  • Judy and Family, you know our live and prayers are with you. What wonderful memories we all have of our times with the two of you. Milton and Peggy

  • Dear Widder Family!! So sorry for your loss!! Jerry will be greatly missed!! We have such fond memories of your family!! Love and prayers to you all!! Ron and Jeanie Roberts

  • I had the honor to know Mr. Widder not only as a student at Northmor HS but as an adult when he was coach at Elgin HS. I covered many or the football games for the newspaper back in the day and it was always fun to arrive at Elgin only to have Coach Widder come out of the crowd of players before game time to come pat me on the back and we would spend a few minutes reminiscing about Northmor, life and family. I always looked forward to being assigned to the Elgin games. Mr. Widder, (as I will always know him from a student to their teacher) was an all-around wonderful person, his laugh was infectious, his smile and conversation a gift, his advice priceless and his wisdom welcoming. I often think back on those days on the football field and our pre-game conversations and during the game as I stood on the sidelines taking my pictures, Coach Widder looking my way as he asked did you get that shot with a thumbs up gesture and that mischievous smile. I always admired Mr. Widder and always will. My thoughts and prayers to his wife and family for continued strength and healing.

  • As Jerry’s youngest brother I could not have had a better mentor. A loving husband, father, grandfather and mentor to so many students throughout his teaching and coaching career. I like so many others will truly miss him . May peace be with his Family during this time.
    Tom Widder Loving Brother.

  • So very sorry to hear of Coach Widder’s passing. I always loved being around your family. Prayers for all of you during this difficult time.

  • Randy and Mike and Terry sending our thoughts and Prayers 1982 C.F. COLTS Football was so blessed to have Coach Widder sending thoughts and Prayers amazing teacher and coach

  • I knew Jerry in several aspects–an official, a fellow athletic director, and a friend. He was truly well respected in Central Ohio and a credit to the many professions he held in his lifetime. My condolences to the family.

  • Judy, Roseanne, Mike, Terry and families,

    So many prayers for comfort and peace for you all right now. Just like all families of coaches, you shared your husband/father to every community that he worked in, sacrificing your own time with him. All of those communities are grateful. Specifically, all of those players are grateful ! Thank you for sharing him. He was a man of integrity and everyone that knew him is a better person for having known him.

  • Judy, Roseanne, Mike, and Terry,
    I was saddened to see the passing of your loved one. I remember the Widder family as a big part of the Northmor community. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  • I knew Jerry from when he taught at Northmor. Then when I graduated the class invited Jerry and Judy to our reunion, it was so great to have them keep in touch with our class. And as I would drive my bus to different schools I would see Jerry and we would speak, it was good to catch up.
    Great memories!
    May your family be proud and my we keep you in our thoughts and prayers.

  • Like many others I’m saddened by the loss of such a good person . Jerry was very respected and liked by the people associated in Marion area high school sports. He will be missed. He touched many lives and I’m glad to be one of those. Thanks Jerry

  • You broke the mold; there will never be another. RIP, Jerry. It was a pleasure to be on your track staff at Marion Catholic. It was a good time, it was the best time, it was a party just to be near you; it was a good time, it was the best time, it was a short time, but such a good time.

  • I knew Coach Widder during his years at Northmor High School. He was a great teacher and coach. I remember him taking over at a pep rally one time leading us all in a chant of “We believe!” He inspired us to be our best selves. He could also make school fun. I remember the day before Christmas break when he dressed as Santa and had those big, hulking athletes come and sit on his knee as he asked each one what he wanted for Christmas.

    I also saw Coach Widder as a great husband and father, especially as he worshipped with his family at the Iberia Presbyterian Church. My condolences and prayers go out to Judy, Roseann, Mike, and Terry and all the rest of his family. Thanks be to God for this wonderful man!

  • What an amazing man in an era of manly coaches. It was a privilege to coach under the guidance of Coach Widder at Elgin in the mid 80’s. But what I remember most was when Jerry and Judy opened their home inviting me to live with them as a raw rookie teacher and coach until I could afford an apartment on my own. That’s just one example of the people they were. We will miss you Coach!

  • Dear Judy and family! Everone loved Coach Widder! Our kids held him in highest regard! Tim on his Cf foootball team and Teresa on the Girl’s basketball team. Both of them called us to see if we had heard of his passing.. Our youngest son, Troy, heard many good stories of him through others. We all send our condolence and are glad he has ran the race and won! Praying for you with love. The Paul Hamilton family.

  • Mrs Widder, Terry, Myke and Rosanne:
    I can’t put into words how so so sorry I am. Coach Widder was great. I’m sure he will be missed by so many. You all have such beautiful families. I loved the video.
    Praying for you all. Asking Jesus to put his arms around you and comfort you. Again I am so so sorry. Keeping you in my prayers.

  • Mrs. Widder
    Thank You for letting Coach come to Elgin
    I am so sorry for Your Loss.
    Pray Not.. to Win… God Willing You Shall

  • Judy and Family,

    I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of Coach Widder. He was such a great coach and leader who demanded your respect. He had such an impact upon me and I still hear some of the life lessons he taught playing in my head today and will continue though my life. He will be missed! Thinking of you all during this difficult time.

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