Richard A. Widder was welcomed into the arms of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, on April 6, 2020, in West Bend, WI, at the age of 87.
Richard was born into a farming family in Sheboygan, WI, on September 8, 1932, along with his triplet brothers, Ronald and Robert. His brother Ronald was stillborn, and nine years later—in what Richard called the saddest chapter of his life—his brother Bobby died from a brain tumor.
Richard grew up milking cows and harvesting hay, but after graduating from Sheboygan Central High School, he left the farm for the big city of Chicago to attend Moody Bible Institute. After completing a program in missionary studies in 1954, Richard moved to Milwaukee to attend the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, where he earned his bachelor of science in elementary education (1958). While in Milwaukee, Richard attended Garfield Avenue Baptist Church (now Spring Creek Church), where he met Nancy C. Newton. They were married on August 25, 1956.
Over the next several years, Richard and Nancy moved from small apartment to duplex to their first house, built in Menomonee Falls, and they grew their family to six. In subsequent years, the Widders lived in Milwaukee, Germantown, Pewaukee, and West Bend, while their extended family grew to include three sons-in-law, one daughter-in-law, seven grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.
Richard served in the Army Reserves from 1958–69 and obtained his master of science in educational psychology from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee in 1968. He taught fifth grade in the Milwaukee Public Schools for eleven years before becoming a school psychologist. After earning his PhD in educational psychology from Marquette University (1985), Richard finished his career with Milwaukee Public Schools as a supervisor of psychologists.
Richard served for many years on the boards of Heritage Christian Schools (New Berlin) and Spring Creek Church (Pewaukee)—often as chairman of both. In his retirement he also worked as a high school guidance counselor for Heritage Christian Schools. During these retirement years, he coauthored a book with daughter Wendy in which he laid out practical ways for teachers to integrate a Christian worldview across the curriculum. However, the most challenging and rewarding accomplishment of Richard’s retirement was relearning how to read and write after a debilitating stroke.
Richard never liked being the center of attention, and he would think this obituary too long already. What mattered most to him was loving and serving his Savior, Jesus Christ, and he did so by devoting himself to his wife, providing for his family, and doing whatever he could in service to the church. He willingly sacrificed without fanfare, gave generously with no desire for recognition, and led by example for his entire life. His quiet wit and wisdom will be sorely missed by all who knew him.
Richard is survived by his loving wife of sixty-three years, Nancy; his children, Bonnie (Michael) Wisth, Kerry (Ruth) Widder, Suzanne (Peter) Krebs, and Wendy (Patrick) Huisken; his brothers, Alan (Pearl) and Keith (Agnes); his grandchildren, Nicholas (Mary) Wisth, Allison Wisth, Rebecca (Ken) Prewett, Joshua Widder, Philip (Mayli) Krebs, Sarah Krebs, and Jonny Krebs; and his great-grandchildren, Maddie, Max, Tessa, and Genevieve. He is preceded in death by his parents, Hugo and Marie Widder, and brothers Ronald and Robert.
The family gratefully thanks the many caregivers who took such tender care of Richard during his last days: Lori Wollenberg (Remain at Home), The Waterford at West Bend, and Heartland Hospice. He (and we) could not have done without you.
In light of COVID-19 restrictions, a public celebration of Richard’s life will be held when restrictions have been lifted. Until then, please visit
Richard’s on-line memorial page to remember him and pay respects to the family. https://wenwidder.wixsite.com/richardwidder