William Widerman, 90; led insurance company

William D. Widerman
William D. Widerman
Posted: August 04, 2014

William D. Widerman was a starting pitcher for the Duke University baseball team and a member of the V-12 Navy College Training Program intended to produce officers during World War II.

There came a time when his North Carolina college team played an exhibition game against a military team, starring no less than the Red Sox leftfielder Ted Williams, who had led the American League in homers in 1941 and 1942.

The reason that the major-league star was playing against a college team, likely in 1943, is lost to Widerman family memory, but a Marines website reports that some of Williams' training to become a Marine Corps pilot took place at Chapel Hill, N.C.

The Splendid Splinter made the day memorable.

"Ted Williams launched one off him," Mr. Widerman's son William L. said, and, as he began his home-run trot, the star yelled at the pitcher, " 'Kid, you better throw harder than that!' "

The highlight of his pitching career.

After being commissioned a Navy officer at Columbia University in January 1945 with his mechanical-engineering degree from Duke, Mr. Widerman served in the Navy Construction Battalion known as the Seabees.

On Tuesday, July 29, Mr. Widerman, 90, of Cherry Hill, until recently president and chief operating officer of Widerman & Co. Insurance in Haddonfield, died at Virtua Memorial regional medical center in Mount Holly.

He was a lifelong Eagles fan and a season ticketholder since 1961, his son said.

"He had five tickets, and so he took his wife and three boys" to games year after year.

"We went to some doozies" in the bad old days, his son said.

But into Mr. Widerman's 70s and 80s, the long wait panned out.

"Under Andy Reid and Chip Kelly," he said of the recent coaches, "we saw some winning teams, and that was good."

Mr. Widerman returned to the Philadelphia region to work for John J. Nesbitt & Co. in the 1940s and 1950s.

After a merger, he was executive vice president of marketing for ITT-Nesbitt Inc., a manufacturer of heating and air-conditioning equipment, near Rhawn Street and Cottman Avenue in Philadelphia.

In the late 1960s, he and Richard Greene left that firm to form Widerman & Greene as manufacturers' representatives for such equipment, first in Cherry Hill, later in West Conshohocken.

"He was a very good friend and an astute businessman," Greene said.

"I would describe him as a great teacher in business. He stressed fairness and honesty. The guidance he gave me stayed with me to the end of my career."

Mr. Widerman left the partnership in 1973, Greene said, to become executive vice president at AC Manufacturing in Cherry Hill.

In 1976, Mr. Widerman joined the family insurance firm, which, his son said, focuses on "property and casualty insurance, with a specialty in medical malpractice."

A member of the Tavistock Country Club for more than 55 years, Mr. Widerman was a longtime member of Mariner Sands Country Club in Stuart, Fla., and what is now Stockon Seaview, the golf club in Galloway Township.

Besides son William, Mr. Widerman is survived by Phyllis, his wife of 67 years; sons Robert and Richard; seven grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

A visitation was set from 9:30 to 10:45 a.m. Monday, Aug. 4, at Kain-Murphy Funeral Services, 15 West End Ave., Haddonfield, before a brief memorial service there at 11 a.m. Interment is to be private.

Donations may be sent to www.advancement.jefferson.edu.

Condolences may be offered to the family at http://kainmurphy.com.


wnaedele@phillynews.com

610-313-8134 @WNaedele

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