Robert H. Widmer
1916 - 2011
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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.
Memories & Condolences
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9 entries
July 25, 2011
Mrs Widmer and family - I first met Bob when I was working for the Air Force on the F-111 compressor stall problem. Later about 2000, I wrote a case study on the F-111, and had a chance to renew my acquaintence with Bob when we went over the history of the F-111. Bob took me on a golf cart tour of Colonial CC. I admired Bob as an enginner and manager, and his "no-nonsense" approach to engineering.
My condolences on your loss.

Dr G Keith Richey
Retired Director, Air Force Flight Dynamics Lab
Wright Patterson AFB Oh
Keith Richey
June 24, 2011
Dear Gail and family,

We would like to extend our deepest sympathy to all of you in these difficult days of separation. May you find comfort in the good memories shared with your loved one.

Claire-Lise and John Knecht
Claire-Lise & John Knecht
June 23, 2011
Dear Gail and Bill,
We are saddened by the passing of your Father. His obituary was very nicely written and a fine tribute to a man who was interesting and accomplished in many areas of life. Our heart felt love to you and your family,
Carol and Jim Dunaway
June 23, 2011
Fort Worth and the Aviation Industry has lost a giant. I had the privilege of working with Bob in the 1980s and early 1990s while he was a consultant to GD. Bob was a mentor and encouraged me to think out of the box and to anticipate the future versus react to the present. Bob was the most intelligent person I worked with in my 33 years in the industry. He was also a pleasure to work with, having what a coworker describes as "technical charisma." I met Bob occasionally in recent years and was always impressed by his vivacity, he didn't seem to age. I'll treasure my memories of Bob, and continue to apply the lessons he taught.

To quote a pastor at the funeral of another friend....."Goodnight sweet warrior, we will see you, in the morning!"
Paul Park
June 22, 2011
Florice and I send our thoughts and prayers to the Widmer family.

I had the privelege of knowing Bob for more than 50 years and the pleasure of many work experiences, including business trips.

Bob was not only was an exceptional engineer and scientist, but also a remarkable person.
Gene Heizer
June 22, 2011
Sorry for your loss, Larry. Mr. Widmer was a friend and coworker of my father, Al Lanzara at GD. I know your dad enjoyed riding in your Grand Sport Corvette.
Mike Lanzara
June 22, 2011
Mary and I extend our deepest condolences to Jeanette and the family. Mr. Widmer had been a giant among aerospace engineers. One does not forget those penetrating eyes and inquisitive jabs of Bob easily. His single-minded pursue of technical excellence anchored the engineering capabilities of General Dynamics/Fort Worth and Lockheed Martin Aeronautics.
Charles Liang
June 22, 2011
Dear Jeanette
I am very sorry to hear of your loss. My Mother (Aniela Goldthwaite) thought the world of both of you. My thoughts and prayers are with you. May he be playing golf now in a cool and beautiful place.
Frances Goldthwaite Read
June 22, 2011
Larry and Gail, I'm so sorry to hear of your dad's death. I remember him fondly. He seemed to be a calming influence in your home all the many times I was over playing with you two. I hope your mom is doing ok. Hopefully one day soon our paths will cross again!
Jane Hawkins MacFarland
Jane MacFarland
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