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In Memoriam

Donald W. Weidner

A Lancer out of sight
Never out of mind


We regret to inform all of the Alumni and the class of

1967 that Donald Weidner died Wednesday, December 12, 2001 when his plane crashed in Jacksonville Florida.


Published Saturday, December 15, 2001

Attorneys killed in plane crash highly esteemed

Law partners Donald W. Weidner, 52, and G. Thomas Bowden II, 31, limited their practice primarily to representing physicians and other medical professionals throughout Florida, but a legal matter to which they were attending when their private plane crashed Wednesday had nothing to do with health care law.


They were helping friends settle a family estate issue.


The two are believed to have died Wednesday along with an Orange Park couple when Mr. Weidner's plane crashed in dense fog short of the runway at Jacksonville International Airport.


Bruce Richardson, a public relations consultant and friend to both lawyers, said it was Mr. Weidner's third round-trip of the week between Jacksonville and Fort Lauderdale.


Mr. Weidner, a pilot for almost 10 years, had a history of public service, including an unsuccessful 1992 run for Congress against U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, before setting up a Jacksonville law practice.




The Baltimore native graduated from high school in Virginia before attending Valparaiso (Ind.) University, where he earned bachelor's and juris doctorate degrees. In his 1974 law school class, he ranked third out of 119 students and was president of the Student Bar Association.


With his law degree, Mr. Weidner came to Florida and served as deputy public counsel in Tallahassee until being named executive assistant to Public Service Commission Chairwoman Paula Hawkins. In 1979-80, he was executive director of the Republican Party of Florida, resigning that May to become Hawkins' campaign coordinator in her successful bid for the U.S. Senate.


He moved to Washington, where he served as congressional lobbyist for an assistant secretary of agriculture.


Mr. Weidner came to Jacksonville in 1984 as associate general counsel for the Florida Medical Association, a post he held for five years. During that time, the FMA formed the Florida Physicians Association and Mr. Weidner served as its general counsel and executive director.


When he worked for the FMA, his boss was John Thrasher of Orange Park, a former House speaker who now is chairman of the board of trustees at FSU.


"Don was a great guy, and this is a terrible tragedy," Thrasher said. "Don was one of the most energetic, creative guys I've worked with. He always had a smile on his face and a creative idea in his head."

Philip Gilbert, executive director of the Duval County Medical Society, said of Mr. Weidner: "Don was a highly motivated individual. He was a very, very creative and very sincere person who was heavily involved with the medical community. It was a great love of his."


A leading layman in the Lutheran church, Mr. Weidner helped found Celebration Lutheran Church in Switzerland after he moved from the Mandarin area, where he had been president of Guardian Lutheran Church.


Mr. Weidner served as an adjunct professor of both administrative law and aviation law at Florida Coastal School of Law.


He is survived by his wife, Sherrie Weidner of Switzerland; four daughters, Kristin Lewis of Jacksonville and Caroline, Melanie and Jessica Weidner, all of Switzerland; a son, Luke, of Switzerland; three grandchildren; his mother, Elsa Weidner of Ormond Beach; two brothers, Kenneth Weidner of Ormond Beach and Vernon "Bill" Weidner of South Daytona; and a sister, Ellen Back of Holly Hill.