Jay Widman is the son of Dwight and Arlene Widman. The youngest of eight children, he was born in Warsaw, Indiana. Jay attended Sacred Heart Catholic Church through the 3rd grade. In 1974, John Whitcomb told the Widman's that Lakeland Christian Academy was going to open and Jay was enrolled soon thereafter. He was part of the first class that went all the way through grades 7-12. His sister, Brenda, was part of LCA’s first graduating class.
LCA started in the basement of Winona Lake Grace Brethren Church and subsequently relocated to Wooster Road to the Three Buildings on the Hill. Jay has the dubious distinction as the first student to be paddled by Rick Brundage. Apparently, Jay’s pitching skills were not appreciated in the lunchroom!
While at LCA, Jay participated in sports, auto mechanics, and chess club. He played baseball and lettered in basketball, soccer, track, and cross-country. He also managed a garden fundraiser for his class. Students would grow to produce and sell at the local farmer’s market for a profit in order to fund their senior trip. Jay remembers being “elected for this position” rather than being asked. However, in true Jay Widman fashion, he put his shoulder into the job for the senior trip. Jay mentioned that he didn’t really fit academically with his class. His class was, by-and-large, a very academic class, and high grades did not come easy for a guy who learned by doing and not by reading. Jay relayed a time he was doing his best to pass a typing test. He had to type forty words in a minute with less than six mistakes. Since Jay’s fingers were more like a fist instead of phalanges, he didn’t stand a chance at passing. After the test, his teacher, Mrs. Mayes, remarked that she didn’t know how Jay did as well as he did with his meaty-hands and gave him a passing grade.
By the time Jay graduated, LCA had grown to about 125 students. After graduating high school, Jay studied diesel mechanics at Vincennes University where he was voted most likely to succeed by his peers. After a semester, Jay transferred to Grace College to pursue a business degree and run track. Uncertain of his future plans, Jay decided to take a semester off. During this time away from school, Jay’s mother died. It was 1981 and Jay was just nineteen.
Before returning to college, this time Faith Baptist in Iowa, Jay met Lori Overstreet through a mutual friend. Lori was the daughter of the Pastor of First Baptist Church in Warsaw who was also a Homiletics professor at Grace College. In 1983 Jay returned from Iowa and married Lori. Jay and Lori have two children, Joel and Jamie. Joel and Jamie are LCA alumni and Lori was LCA’s Development Director for several years in the early 2000s.
Through a series of sub-contracting jobs, Jay opened his construction business in 1986. Jay has been involved in the Warsaw community as a contractor for over thirty years, both commercial and residential. He has built and renovated numerous homes in the area as well as completed large projects like the Winona Hotel roof. Jay also built LCA’s medical clinic and renovated the office area to be a more secure area.
Jay returned to his roots in 1983 to coach LCA’s boys’ varsity soccer team. He coached from 1983-1989 and then again in 2009. He had the privilege of coaching LCA alumni like Vern and Pete Gross, Phill Dorian, Cory Rose, and Jeff and Jay Mathisen. He also coached the girls’ varsity soccer team from 2002-2006. In 2006 the LCA girls’ team defeated an undefeated Blackhawk Christian by using an unconventional strategy. Some of his fondest memories of LCA are his relationships with teachers, basketball tournaments, Christmas dinners, and the small, family, relational atmosphere that fostered positive peer pressure. Jay said that he “appreciated having peers to encourage him to make the right decisions.”
Jay is most proud of the moment he gave his life to Jesus as Lord and Savior. In 1974 Bob Whitcomb led Jay to Christ and a few days earlier Connie Whitcomb led Jay’s sister Brenda to Christ. Jay is also grateful for his wife, two children, Joel and Jamie, who love Jesus and have a life of integrity. Jay too has demonstrated a life of integrity throughout the Warsaw community, and LCA is proud to have him as a dear friend, alumni, and a member of our athletic Hall of Fame.