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WILLARD C. WIDERBERG


1920 - 2013 Obituary Condolences
Will Widerberg, a former teacher and principal at DeKalb Community School District 428 and the recipient of the 1954 National Teacher of the Year, passed away on Friday, Feb. 1, 2013 in Deland, Fla.

He was 92 years old and remained healthy and independent until the last couple days of his life. His wife of 71 years, Dorothy, survives him.

Will was known in DeKalb for his community involvement through the school system, DeKalb parks and recreation, the Lions Club, Boy Scouts of America and the Masonic Temple. He was named president of the NIU Alumni Association in 1964 and held a board member position for 16 years with the DeKalb Savings and Loan Association.

Born April 16, 1920 to Alrik and Mabel Widerberg in Chicago (Hegewisch), Will lived and worked in the south side of Chicago area until World War II. He was a veteran of the U.S. Army, earning the rank of sergeant major, and spent much of his service time in England and France during the war. After discharge from the service he attended Northern Illinois University and upon graduation, accepted a position with DeKalb schools where he remained for 32 years until his retirement.

Will was an avid Chicago White Sox fan. His love of sports inspired him to play softball on many DeKalb teams during his younger years and provided him great satisfaction in his retirement when he played in the Florida senior leagues. He was known for his all-around abilities from pitching to fielding and hitting. He finally "threw in the towel" at age 84.

As national "Teacher of the Year" in 1954, Will and his family traveled to Washington to meet President Dwight D. Eisenhower and other political figures and then on to New York City for a gala and introduction on the Ed Sullivan Show. Subsequently, over his life he attended several national "Teacher of the Year" award presentations at the White House Rose Garden. Eastern Illinois University displays a bust of Will on its education wing hall of fame.

Other survivors include five children: sons, Willard B. (Donna), Greg (Carol) and Mark (companion Heather); daughters, Dawn Sauer (Bradley) and Lynda Hancock (Tony); five grandchildren, Jennifer Donner (Josh), Stephen Widerberg, Katherine Hancock, Ryan Widerberg and Laura Hancock; a brother-in-law, Edward Kawecki; and several nieces and nephews.

A memorial celebration of his life will be held in Florida.
Published in Daily Chronicle on Feb. 4, 2013
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