Dec. 28, 1935 – Nov. 8, 2018
Robert Albert Widger found many ways to express himself as an artist.
When his older brother was a fighter pilot in World War II, he immersed himself in drawing images of American warplanes from the pictures he saw in newspapers and magazines.
As an art teacher at Orchard Park Middle School, he designed and built sets for the school plays.
He also made his home in Buffalo’s Elmwood Village a showcase for his talents.
“He really was a natural artist,” his wife of 54 years, the former Lynn Huber, said. “Our house looks like an art gallery. He did representations very, very accurately.”
Mr. Widger died Nov. 8 in the New York State Veterans’ Home in Batavia. He was 82.
Born in Buffalo, he took art classes at Lafayette High School and was a member of the track and swimming teams. As a teen, he also delivered The Buffalo Evening News and was proud of having the largest newspaper route in the city at that time.
“When he finally gave the route up, they split it in half,” his wife said.
He enlisted in the Marine Corps after graduating from high school in 1953 and was a radio operator. Stationed in the Philippines and Japan, he attained the rank of sergeant.
After his discharge, he enrolled at SUNY Buffalo State and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in art education.
He had a 30-year teaching career at Orchard Park Middle School, retiring in 1998.
When Mr. Widger became a homeowner, he discovered a talent for woodworking.
“He got this house over 100 years old and he rebuilt it,” his wife said. “He went to work on the outside, the gingerbread, then he worked on the inside.”
He became a skilled furniture maker and filled his home with items he custom designed and built, as well as pastels that he painted.
In retirement, he followed another artistic pursuit, wildlife photography, as he and his wife traveled extensively in the U.S. and Europe. From northern Manitoba, at Churchill on Hudson Bay, he brought back photos of polar bears.
In addition to his wife, a biology teacher in the Buffalo schools, survivors include three daughters, Cherie Widger-Kresge, Robin Wright and Rebecca; a son, Eric; two grandchildre;n and two great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at a later date.