Jerry Lee “Coach” Widder
December 25, 1937 ‒ April 24, 2020
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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