Gretchen Katherine Widner
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Gretchen Katherine Widner
  • July 15, 1930 - January 7, 2018
  • Sun City West, Arizona

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Gretchen Tift Widner, age 87, died January 7, 2018, at her home in Sun City West, Arizona.
Born in Litchfield, Minnesota, July 15, 1930 to Sam and Kathryn Heddens Tift, Gretchen attended Hutchinson High School, and received her B.S. degree from Macalester College, St. Paul, Minnesota. She considered Macalester her home from age twelve on as her mother was house director to 165 girls at Wallace Hall for many years. After graduating from Macalester, she and a large group of new Minnesota teachers went to Great Falls, Montana to teach. The superintendent of schools attracted them by offering the perfect children, high salaries, and most of all, Malmstrome Air Force Base. There, she met First Lt. Allen Gene Widner, of Pittsburg, Kansas, a fighter pilot returning from active duty in Korea. They were married at Macalester in 1955 at Wally Hall, her old home. She taught in St. Paul, while Gene received a second degree at the University of Minnesota. In 1959 they moved to Kansas City, Missouri. After Gene's retirement as a chemical engineer, they became winter visitors to Sun City West, Arizona, where she again became connected with her Minnesota friends.
Her family and friends were her life. She treasured her many summer automobile trips with her children as they grew up, and as married adults, all took a Christmas trip to Hawaii. She and Gene had similar interests-bridge, both elders and active in their Presbyterian church, play reading groups, and special social events. After overcoming her fear of flying, they made many trips to Europe.
She was a member of PEO Sisterhood, Chapter H.J.-Kansas and Chapter CG-Sun City West, Arizona, and was a lifelong supporter of Macalester College.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Gene Widner, and her brother, John Heddens Tift. She is survived by two children, Robert S. Widner, of Dallas, Texas and Patricia K Wilcox (Brad), of Olathe, Kansas; three grandchildren, Morgan Alexis Widner, Cody David Wilcox and Brandon Allen Wilcox; two step grandchildren Robin Diane Wilcox-Gill (Shawn) and Marc Dominic Wilcox; and a step great granddaughter Rinoa Rose Gill.
Memorial services will be 1:00 pm, Saturday, February 3, 2018 at the John Knox Kirk Presbyterian Church also known as the Kirk of Kansas City, 11430 Wornall Road, Kansas City, Missouri. Graveside services will be private. The family asks that memorials be made to the ALS Society-Keith Worthington Chapter or John Knox Kirk Presbyterian Church.