Roberta Wido, who retired to Florida with her husband of 59 years only to witness their life together end with his fatal shooting in 2008, died this week. She was 81.
Mrs. Wido, who went by Bobbe, had been in declining health since the night a masked intruder broke into the Timber Oaks home she shared with her husband, Joe.
The couple met as teenagers in high school in Cliffside Park, N.J.
"He made my heart race," Mrs. Wido told the Times in 2008.
They married in 1949, after he fought in Belgium and Germany during World War II, earning a Bronze Star. He made his living as a butcher, and she worked as a telephone operator. They had two daughters.
In their retirement, they played pinochle and attended neighborhood dances. Joe brought plants when new neighbors moved in, and they trusted him to watch over their homes when they were away.
Early on Aug. 28, 2008, as the couple lay in bed, a masked intruder appeared in the doorway. Joe Wido, who was 82, confronted the man, saying, "I can take you on."
But a gun went off suddenly and Joe fell. Mrs. Wido checked her husband's pulse and looked up at the shooter.
"You killed him,'' she said.
The robber bound her hands and feet with duct tape and left her on the floor, next to her dead husband, as he went about gathering jewelry and cash.
She lay there for 10 hours until she heard a neighbor outside and called out for help.
About five months later, in January 2009, Francis Sicola, who had grown up in Pasco County, battled drug addiction and served several stints in prison, was arrested.
He is locked up now, serving 15 years for a robbery he committed earlier the night Joe Wido was killed. His murder case is pending; prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty.
Assistant State Attorney Mike Halkitis, who will prosecute Sicola, said Mrs. Wido's death won't adversely affect the case.
He hadn't planned to call her as a witness because she couldn't identify Sicola, 27, as the shooter. All she clearly remembered, Halkitis said, was the robber asking where the duct tape was — evidence he said he can bring out from the people who found her tied up.
"I just couldn't put that lady through this, and she couldn't give anything that I couldn't get through another witness," Halkitis said.
Jason Hatcher, the sheriff's detective who led the murder investigation, said he frequently visited Mrs. Wido at the assisted living facility she moved to after her husband died.
He could tell she didn't like to talk about the case, so he would just chat with her and try to make her laugh.
"She just had a good, humorous attitude about her," Hatcher said.
She seemed to know she might never see justice done for her husband.
"She'd say she probably wouldn't be around to see it — she probably wouldn't make it," Hatcher said. "I tried to encourage her that she would be."
Mrs. Wido is survived by her daughters Jude Futral and JoAnne Lehr, and grandchildren Robby, Joanna, Rebecca, Samantha and Victoria.
A funeral Mass is planned for 10 a.m. Friday at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Hudson. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the American Cancer Society.
Molly Moorhead can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6245.