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Serving Opelika, Auburn, and Lee County since 1988



Robert Warner Widell

March 10, 2018
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Robert Warner Widell was born in Jacksonville, Florida, on December 7, 1944, to Carl A. Widell and Harriet Warner Widell. At three years of age he moved to West Palm Beach, Florida, where his father began a law practice.  At the age of six Bob moved to the Panama Canal Zone where his father was employed with the U.S. Army and then with the Panama Canal Company.

Bob graduated from Balboa High School in 1962 and enrolled at Duke University, graduating in 1966 with a B.A. in History. That same year he accepted a Fulbright Scholarship to live and study in Brazil, an experience that informed his doctoral studies in Latin American politics at Stanford University where he matriculated the following year.  Bob earned his Ph.D. in 1974 having already accepted a faculty position at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama.  He would remain at Auburn as a member of the Department of Political Science until his retirement in 2009.

In 1968 Bob married Janet Hine, a high school classmate from the Canal Zone.  She joined him in California where she worked as a community health nurse.  In 1970, Bob and Jan welcomed their daughter, Karen, and in 1974, following the family’s move to Auburn, they had a son, Robert, Jr.  In Auburn, the family were active members of the First Presbyterian Church where Bob served in a variety of leadership roles, including Clerk of Session.

Dedicated to his students, Bob oversaw the Model United Nations program at Auburn, managed the Truman Scholarship program, and served as the faculty advisor to Pi Sigma Alpha, the national honor society for Political Science.  He also spearheaded his department’s student advising, providing valuable guidance to undergraduate students to ensure their graduation.  Bob’s calm, quiet manner and sense of humor made him an ideal person to handle these and other departmental duties.

Following his retirement, Bob enjoyed travelling the world with Jan, reading books of all types, and building his personal collection of movies and films.  An avid cook, like his father before him, he also spent many hours in the kitchen preparing meals for family and friends.  In addition, Bob volunteered weekly at the Community Market of the East Alabama Food Bank, took classes through the OLLI program at Auburn, and followed the fortunes of both the Duke and Auburn athletic teams.  He was also a wonderful grandfather who loved every minute he could spend with his three grandchildren.

Bob is predeceased by his parents, Carl and Harriet Widell, and his sisters, Barbara Hopkins and Marjorie Rathbone. He is survived by his wife, Janet; his children:  Karen Widell Fromhold (Matthew) and Robert W. Widell, Jr. (Lauren Weinstock); his grandchildren: Kaitlin Fromhold, Lily Widell, and Abraham Widell; as well as his brother, Carl Widell (Kay); and numerous nephews and nieces.

Funeral services will be held at 2:00 PM on Friday, March 16, 2018 at First Presbyterian Church of Auburn.  The family respectfully declines the gift of flowers and requests donations be made to the First Presbyterian Church of Auburn or the Community Market of the East Alabama Food Bank.

Jeffcoat-Trant Funeral Home is directing.

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