Former Missouri Baptist Convention Executive Director Donald V. Wideman died May 3 at the age of 95.
Wideman served as MBC executive director from 1987–1997. Prior to his service as MBC executive director, Wideman served as MBC president from 1979–80 and as second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1984–85.
He was also a trustee of Baptist Memorial Hospital, Kansas City; William Jewell College, Liberty; and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas.
Wideman was a longtime, committed pastor, having served at four Baptist churches in Missouri.
Through his ministry, he was highly involved in missions work, including the Missouri Baptist Convention Bold Mission Taiwan project in 1982 and in the Partnership Missions: Belarus and Wyoming.
Growing up during the Great Depression
Wideman was born to Emil and Katheryn (Moore) Wideman in St. Louis, Missouri, on Aug. 13, 1927. Growing up during the Great Depression, he attended six different elementary schools in the city before his parents and six younger siblings moved to the country in Jefferson County.
While working various jobs and attempting to help his dad turn their plot of dirt and rocks into a farm, he also managed to graduate valedictorian of his graduating class at Crystal City High School in 1945.
Following graduation, Wideman volunteered for the Navy during World War II. He often liked to boast of ending the war as his deployment date began just prior to Japan’s surrender.
After his time in the service, he moved back to Jefferson County where he met his future wife, Marian Kiepe, at a young people’s “Singspiration” at Zion Methodist Church. During their courtship and early marriage, Wideman founded and led the Gospel Union Band, a group of 20-plus local young people who traveled throughout the region performing gospel music in churches and on the radio.
He and Marian were married on Jan. 27, 1951, at Rush Tower Methodist Church during an ice storm. Soon afterward, he sensed a call to ministry and began attending St. Louis Baptist College. He later graduated from Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, Missouri, all while rearing their four children.
Wideman also received an honorary doctor of divinity degree from William Jewell College in 1980 and an honorary doctor of sacred theology degree from Southwest Baptist University, Bolivar in 1989.
After his retirement in 1997, he and Marian moved to Liberty, where he became executive director of the Partee Center for Baptist Historical Studies at William Jewell College until 2003. During that period, he also served as the college’s interim chaplain and vice president of religious life.
In 2017, he and Marian moved to McCrite Plaza at Briarcliff in Kansas City. He continued to teach his Sunday School class at First Baptist Church North Kansas City until the age of 90.
Wideman was proceeded in death by his parents, his brothers, Bill Wideman and Charles Wideman, and his sisters, Nadine Cook and Doris Whiteside. He is survived by his wife of 72 years, Marian; his son, David (Jenna) Wideman of Charlotte, North Carolina; daughter, Kathy (Alan) Mazi of Liberty, Missouri; son, Tom (Sally) Wideman of North Kansas City, Missouri; daughter, Becky (Brian) Holt of Lawrence, Kansas; 10 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren, and his two youngest brothers, or as Don called them, “the little kids,” Bob and John Wideman.