Paula Widmer (1943-2024)

6 mins read
Paula Widmer

Paula Widmer (1943-2024) of Farmington, Maine died March 25, 2024.

Mary Paula Widmer was born in Louisville, Kentucky on January 12, 1943, to Norbert F. Widmer and Dorothy Petzold Widmer. She spent her childhood in Kentucky and Ohio, moving to Cincinnati at age 8 where she showed her early desire to become local by quickly losing her Kentucky drawl. She would show this desire to be part of the locals wherever she would go, to better get to know and make connections with everyone she met.

Paula described herself as a tall shy girl, who inherited her mother’s gift for drawing, and her father’s gift for writing and love of words. Both would become central to her life, where Paula took every opportunity to immerse herself in language and culture. She was fascinated by languages other than English, at one point or another could easily switch to German, Spanish, French, some Russian, and even later in life Afghani Dari.

Paula’s yen for cultures other than her own began in high school. She relished the German flavor of Cincinnati. In college she moved to Mexico to attend Mexico City College and immersed herself, developing her love for diverse cultures.

Paula moved with her parents to Colorado, furthering her college education at Loretta Heights and Colorado University, advancing towards a degree in Art Education. During a break in this she fell in love with the mountains and worked in the Easter Seals Camp outside Empire Colorado, down the road from Georgetown where she would meet her first husband Dennis Lee Wignall.

A lifelong dream of living in Germany was fulfilled when Dennis was drafted and instead of going to Viet Nam was stationed in the German alps ski racing for the US Army. While living in Augsburg, in what would become a characteristic pattern, Paula developed strong bonds with her Bavarian landlord and family: Aloys and Rosa Fassnacht, whose grown children are still a part of her life. She also began a lifelong passion for her ancestry, starting by connecting with paternal relatives in ancestral Switzerland. Those ties are strong to this day. Wrapping up his military career, she and Dennis travelled Europe in an old VW Beetle and a pup tent. She would return several times to Europe throughout her life, building and maintaining connections as she went. On returning to Denver, she and Dennis welcomed their son Luke Wignall into their lives.

In 1977 she moved with her second husband, Andrew P. Wynn, Luke, and her younger son, Benjamin Wynn, to Western Maine. She immersed herself in the culture of Franklin County-joined the Chesterville Grange, the Women’s Auxiliary to the Chesterville Volunteer Fire Dept., the Women’s Extension Service, and the Franklin County Arts and Crafts Association-forming many lifelong friendships. She taught art at all levels of education, and locally at the Wilton Academy School and University of Maine at Farmington. Paula attended many community events and craft fairs, drawing lifelike pastel and charcoal portraits of children, pets, and family homes.

After spending a school year teaching art in Cali, Colombia in 1989, Paula returned to attend University of Maine at Orono and gain her LCSW, starting a counseling and life coaching business. She took pride in helping her community. Channeling her love of all things international, Paula hosted several students from abroad, learning their languages and their favorite recipes. She has continued to correspond with her international friends and family throughout her life.

Paula continued her artwork, always delighted by composition and design; she surrounded herself with bright colors and exquisite textures. She was most happy when sharing time with friends and family; she adored her grandchildren.

Paula sought a society where the underprivileged and underrepresented people of our world could be treated fairly and with kindness. She did not hesitate to speak out against atrocities. She was politically active and supported nonprofits and leaders who strived to make our world a peaceful place for all to live free of hatred and violence.

Paula is survived by her sons, Luke Wignall and Ben Wynn, and their spouses, Erin Wignall and Michelle Wynn, her grandchildren, Krystin, Ryan, Greta, Ronan Wignall, and Damian Wynn, her brother, Steve Widmer and sister, Marcia Tague, and countless nieces, nephews, cousins, godchildren, and loving friends. All of whom she called family.

A Celebration of Life will be held for Paula Widmer in July. In lieu of flowers, Paula’s family asks that all charitable donations be sent to Farmington Public Library (117 Academy Street, Farmington, ME 04938) as they seek to assist our community to gain knowledge and tolerance for all.

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9 Comments

  1. Paula, I was so blessed to know you, I will miss our chats, my friend. Condolences to Paula’s family she was a bright light in this dark World. RIP

  2. In reading this synopsis of a life rich in experience, knowledge and inquiry, the merits of travel and experiences of culture and language outside our own are clearly evident in Paula’s life. Stretching our comfort zones to adapt and learn from people around the globe provides a person with a different outlook on many of life’s challenges and joys. Paula ‘s life is an example that we all should learn from and encourage others , as well as stepping into someone else’s shoes for a while. Hers was a life well lived and I will miss her.

  3. I was very sorry about Paulas recent passing. My heartfelt Sympathy & Thoughts are with Luke, Ben and families. Paula did radiate
    brightness with her creativity, art & multiple interests and her smile was priceless.

  4. So sorry to hear about Paula. I really enjoyed her as a neighbor at Brookside. I have missed her and continue to do so. R.I.P. Paula.

  5. I was sorry to hear about Paula ,Paula was a amazing woman!, Paula knowledge helped my family in many ways ……thank you! I feel honored that I got to spend time with her recently, ❤️ RIP my friend 🙏

  6. Since I learned of Paula’s passing, I have been grieving a friend, a colleague, an exchanger of thoughts. She was an observer of details while also having a gift of holistic awareness. In her art, friendships, and counseling, Paula could present different perspectives that helped others to consider. She practiced her deep beliefs of a peaceful world by exploring cultures, a modeling of extending friendships worldwide. Paula’s enthusiasm for sharing, laughing, and greeting was a joy!

  7. I was sad to read about this. Paula was a great help to me when I was a beginning teacher back in the early 80’s. She was friendly, supportive, and easy to talk to. RIP Paula.

  8. While it has been years since i have seen Paula, i remember her kindness, gentle spirit, laughter and her drawings. Reading this summary of her life both inspires and saddens: inspires to show how much impact one person can have and saddens for the loss of her energy in the community.

  9. Ik was zeer bedroefd te horen dat Paula was overleden. Het was helaas al een flink aantal jaren geleden dat we elkaar zagen. Wel hadden we op gezette tijden telefonisch contact. Ik heb haar leren kennen als een vrouw met een groot hart dat openstond voor een ieder die het goed meende met andere mensen en de wereld. Ze was een voorbeeld voor iedereen. Rust zacht lieve vriendin.

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