Robert H. Widmer, 95, a retired aeronautical engineer, died Monday, June 20, 2011. Memorial service: 2 p.m. Friday in the sanctuary of University Christian Church. Dr. Alan Lobaugh will officiate. Friends are invited to a reception with members of the family at church immediately following the service. Memorials: In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that memorials be made to University Christian Church, 2720 University Drive, Fort Worth, Texas 76109-1197; Fort Worth Country Day School, 4200 Country Day Lane, Fort Worth, Texas 76109-4299; or a charity of choice. Bob Widmer was a pioneer in aerospace technology and has long been recognized as one of America's outstanding aeronautical engineers. He was born in Hawthorne, N.J., on May 17, 1916. His parents had come to the United States from Switzerland. His father, Dr. Robert Widmer, was an eminent chemist, proud of his Swiss heritage and of a family tree that can be traced back to the year 1531. After early schooling, part of which was in Switzerland, Bob entered Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1934. During the summers, he worked at Teterboro Airport designing and building a small racing biplane as his thesis project for graduation. A year later, he received a master's degree in aeronautical engineering from California Institute of Technology. He started employment with the original Consolidated Aircraft Corp. in San Diego, Calif., in 1939 as an aerodynamics engineer, working on the PBY and PB2Y flying boats, and the B-24. Shortly after the start of World War II, he was transferred to Consolidated's Fort Worth Division, in 1942, with technical responsibility for aerodynamics, thermodynamics and propulsion on the B-32 and B-36 programs. In Fort Worth, he met and married Jeanette Billing. Bob became vice president of research and engineering, and in 1970 he simultaneously held the same position at Convair in San Diego. During this time, he was responsible for development of the B-58, F-111, RB-57, F-16 prototype at Fort Worth, and the Tomahawk cruise missile in San Diego. In 1974 he was promoted to the General Dynamics Corp.'s vice president of science and engineering, and retired in that position in 1981, after 42 years of employment. He then consulted for General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin for another 15 years. He holds numerous honors and distinctions, including the Air Force Association Field of Science Award, and a Lifetime Honorary Air Force Membership for his work on the B-36, which he received in 1949. He was the recipient of the American Society of Professional Engineers Spirit of St. Louis Medal for the B-58 in 1963, and the award for pioneering the eras of supersonic cruise and fly-by-wire computerized flight control. Bob was made a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in 1968, and was elected to be a member of The National Academy of Engineering in 1977. In 1967 he received an honorary doctor of science degree from Texas Christian University for his contributions to aerospace technology and education. Bob was listed in "Who's Who in America," "Who's Who in the World of Science and Engineering" and others. For many years he served on the board of directors at SMU, TCU and the University of Texas at Austin. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2007. He joined Colonial Country Club when he first moved to Fort Worth in 1942 for $100 "because they had the best tennis courts in town." He was the club tennis champion for two years. When the brick dust courts were torn up to make room for more parking, he and his wife switched to golf. They both became avid golfers. He was a member of General Dynamics Retirees Management Club and always enjoyed lunch and golf with old friends, both here and in San Diego where he and his wife kept a home on the golf course in Rancho Bernardo. He was preceded in death by his brother, Peter F. Widmer. Survivors: His wife of 65 years, Jeanette; son, Robert L. "Larry" Widmer; daughter, Gail Widmer Landreth and her husband, W.A. Landreth Jr.; granddaughter, Anjanette Butler and her husband, William; grandsons, W.A. Landreth III and his wife, Regan, Ed Landreth II; great-grandson, "Ward" Butler; great-granddaughter, Adelaide Butler; nephews, Peter Widmer and his wife, Susan; William R. Widmer and his wife, Mary Beth; and niece, Edamarie Del Grosso and her husband, Gary.
Published in Star-Telegram from Jun. 22 to Jun. 23, 2011.