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George Widman, longtime AP photographer and Pulitzer finalist, dead at 79

TRAPPE, Pa. (AP) — George Parker Widman, a longtime Associated Press photographer and a 1988 Pulitzer finalist, died at his home Friday in Trappe, Pennsylvania. He was 79.

Widman was born on Sept. 16, 1944, in Utica, New York, and raised in New Hartford, New York, before studying photography at Rochester Institute of Technology, according to an obituary provided by the family. He worked briefly for the Gannett Utica newspapers before being drafted and going on to serve four years in U.S. Navy intelligence.

He eventually returned to Utica as photography director and also freelanced during the 1970s for a number of print outlets including AP, covering the NFL and general news as well as the Lake Placid and Moscow 1980 Olympics.

In 1982, he became an AP staff photographer and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for feature photography in 1988 for his photograph of a homeless man in Philadelphia. He retired from the AP in October 2007.

“He was an ace sports photographer but he could shoot anything,” said Sally Hale, a former Pennsylvania bureau chief who worked with Widman in Philadelphia.

Widman said in the obituary, which he wrote, that he “considered his actual flying of the Goodyear Blimp (and nearly crashing it) before the 1985 Live Aid Concert in Philly to be the highlight of his career." He also wrote of relishing the opportunity to travel to Cartagena, Colombia, to teach photo lighting techniques to South American photojournalists.

Widman’s wife, Sarah, died in June 2012. He is survived by sons Robert Duncan Widman and James Widman and by two grandsons as well as by brother David Widman Jr. and sister Barbara Ann Winfield; another sister, Eleanor Jean Turner, died in 2020.

Details of a planned funeral service and burial were to be announced later.