Douglas M. Widmeyer Obituary 2021
Long-time Martinsburg civic and community leader Douglas Marvin Widmeyer, 90, passed away on March 26 after a short illness.
Widmeyer, who was active in so many sectors of the local community from business to church to health, education and politics, was the son of the late William and Gertrude Widmeyer. His father, in 1925, opened Widmeyer’s Cleaners and Tailoring and Douglas took over the ownership of the cleaners in 1960 following his dad’s death. From 1960 until 1991, the Widmeyer cleaning establishment operated on West Race Street.
Over the past 25 years, Widmeyer had a key role in the expansion of health care services in the Eastern Panhandle. He joined the Board of Directors of the then City Hospital in the 1980s and was integrally involved in the 2005 integration with West Virginia University, its expansive hospital system and the School of Medicine. Widmeyer firmly believed that this integration would be transformational in bringing top quality health care to the region, increasing the number of medical specialists and establishing a key marker for a campus setting in Martinsburg which has been ongoing for the past 15 years. For many years, Widmeyer served as treasurer of the hospital and also held director positions with the hospital’s foundation arm.
Noted Liz Oates whose family was instrumental in the original City Hospital, “Doug was an amazing individual, so accomplished yet so humble. He was such a driving force with the hospital and the foundation. I will remember him with such fondness and respect.”
Widmeyer had many passions and he aimed to provide his support both as a volunteer and donor for a multitude of programs in the Eastern Panhandle.
Until his death, he was on the Board of Habitat for Humanity Eastern Panhandle after serving three years as his president. He was an advocate for creating home ownership opportunities for aspiring individuals and families who could benefit from Habitat’s help. In recent years, some 40 homes have been built by Habitat in the region.
Widmeyer could usually be found several days a week helping with programs at St. John’s Lutheran Church where he belonged since his childhood. Over the years, he was a Church Trustee, church council member and active in pastoral care along with the church’s monthly “Friends Feeding Friends” program. And, during the height of COVID-19, Widmeyer and a few St. John’s volunteers delivered bagged lunches to parishioners in need. His bond with St. John’s was very much fostered by his mother who was a church leader there in the first half of the 20th century.
On the education front, Widmeyer was a huge advocate for his childhood grammar school, Winchester Avenue School which recently celebrated its 100th year anniversary. Doug, and his brother, Bob, were featured in a page one Journal story in November where they both talked about how they treasured their learning and boyhood growth at Winchester Avenue.
In higher education, Widmeyer supported scholarship programs in nursing for Berkeley County high school students studying at state colleges and universities. And, he along with his late wife, Ruth Ann and son, Scott endowed the Widmeyer Professorship of Public Relations at WVU which was bestowed to Diana Martinelli, now Dean at the Reed College of Media. Widmeyer also has actively supported internships and summer media camps through the WVU program.
Caring a lot about those who need uplifting, Widmeyer, in recent years, got involved in supporting the Martinsburg Union Rescue Mission. He served there as a board member and facilitated numerous large donor contributions for the Mission.
Politics was another key piece of Widmeyer’s life. For more than 10 years, Widmeyer chaired the Berkeley County Democratic Executive Committee as well as heading successful regional campaign efforts for Jay Rockefeller, Bob Wise and others who were interested in elected positions in Congress, the Legislature, the courts, City Council and school board.
Widmeyer was preceded in death by his wife, Ruth Ann in 2011 after a 61-year marriage. He is survived by his son, Scott, of Woodstock NY; son-in-law, Alan Yount; brother Robert of Martinsburg; eight nieces and nephews and so many friends whose lives have been touched by Doug. His oldest brother, William N., preceded him in death.
He was a 1948 graduate of Martinsburg High School and attended Shepherd University where he studied business administration. Widmeyer also was very active in Lions International and served in positions as local president and zone chair. His other memberships included Main Street Martinsburg and the Grand Lodge of the Masons.
In 2016, the Association of Fundraising Professionals recognized Widmeyer as one of its “Distinguished Volunteers” in celebration of National Philanthropy Day.
A private family service will be held Wednesday at St. John's Lutheran Church in Martinsburg with burial to follow in Rosedale Cemetery. Later in the year, a public Celebration of Life will take place in Martinsburg for Widmeyer.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to the Martinsburg Union Rescue Mission or to St. John’s Lutheran Church.
Arrangements by Brown Funeral Home. Online condolences may be offered at www.brownfuneralhomeswv.com