William Bill O Winter

October 1, 1918August 30, 2012

A Gentleman and a Scholar.

Bill Winter passed away at home after a long and wonderful life just one month shy of his 94th birthday. He grew up in Missouri and Oklahoma, moving frequently as his father pursued new farming and business opportunities. His was a happy childhood, protected from the ravages of the depression by the food grown at home and a dairy that provided the family a small income though Bill often brought up how much he hated getting up at 3:30 every morning to milk cows. He was loved and nurtured in his childhood by not only his parents, but by his “Granny” whom he adored. One of his favorite childhood memories was of living in Walters, Oklahoma just after oil was discovered on the neighboring Indian reservation. For many years he thought the only rich people in the world were Indians. The oil boom figured prominently in his life, first in Walters and later in his job as a roughneck where he met a host of interesting characters that would later populate his novel set in the Oklahoma oil fields.

Bill attended Hickman High School in Columbia, Missouri (go Kewpies!) and in 1936 entered the University of Missouri, majoring in Political Economy with the intention of becoming a lawyer. He was captured, however, by a fascination with politics and the workings of government and stayed with Political Science for his career, eventually pursuing a doctorate at the University of Michigan under the GI Bill after World War II. He was graced in this period by the arrival of his children Steve and Sherry (his “Dolly”) who were the light of his life. His first job out of college was as an economist with the US government. He recalls walking out of the office to get lunch, making an abrupt turn into a Navy recruiting station, getting his physical on the spot and walking out a Lieutenant in the US Navy. He served in the Pacific during World War II as a gunnery officer on the destroyer USS Hadley. He had many entertaining war stories that held his grandchildren enthralled. Favorites among them; the “pet” octopus under the dock in Hawaii who loved to be fed Spam, the raids Bill and his fellow officers made to replenish critical parts for the guns when normal procurement channels were too slow, shepherding spirited enlisted personnel on troop trains, and gunnery practices along the coast of Mexico. In a war filled with tragedy, the worst experience he had was when his ship was hit by a Japanese Kamikaze, killing many of his friends and colleagues. His naval experience continued to be a source of pride for him for the rest of his life.

After obtaining his PhD, he began his career at Southern Illinois University where he solidified his interest and expertise in the functioning and critical role of state and local governments in society. There in Carbondale, Illinois he met his future wife Alice Beardslee. After their marriage they went to Vienna, Austria on a Fulbright sabbatical where their daughter Susan was born. Though in the years that followed they traveled to many places, Vienna would always hold a special place in their hearts. Back in Carbondale they welcomed their daughter Lucy to the family. In 1963 Bill took a summer position at the University of Colorado, Boulder and was subsequently offered a position there. He remained at CU for the rest of his academic career.

Bill and Alice were active members of the community and in Democratic politics, fighting for such political landmarks as the first sales tax to support open space and to keep the public library downtown. They were proud to support the first openly gay and African American members ever elected to the Boulder City Council. Bill served on the Zoning Board for many years, lending his knowledge of the impact of local government decisions on community function to the critical decisions that preserved the unique beauty seen in Boulder today. Bill also ran for Boulder County Commissioner in the early seventies. One of his favorite pastimes was to sit with a drink and a pipe and talk politics for hours with friends and family.

Bill was a compassionate man. He was always concerned with the downtrodden and disenfranchised. Though lectured sternly by his granddaughter that he should give money to organizations that help the homeless rather than to the panhandlers themselves, Bill would never pass someone asking for money without giving them whatever he had in his pocket. He took to heart and often quoted Matthew 25:40 and :45 where Jesus says; “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” and “Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” He believed in the power and responsibility of society to help the less fortunate, and that political and governmental processes could be a powerful source of good.

Bill was an intellectual. To the day he died, he read two newspapers and countless magazines and literary publications cover to cover every day. He was incredibly well informed, equally at home quoting the King James Bible, giving a geography lesson or presenting interesting obscure facts from history. He was the author of many textbooks and novels. He wasn’t letting his 10th decade slow him down - he had just started to learn the piano. He was also physically active his whole life, having only given up riding his bike earlier this year. He loved backpacking and took his last backpacking trip into the Snowy Range in Wyoming at the age of 89. He was an avid gardener who enjoyed eating BLTs made with his delicious homegrown tomatoes. He took great joy in sitting in his kitchen watching the birds at the feeders, especially the hummingbirds.

Bill was preceded in death by his wife Alice, his son Steve and daughter Sherry, and his three siblings Peter, Hauser and Ada Lou (Winter) West. He is survived by 2 children, 6 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren.

We would like to thank all of the kind people of Boulder who made his last years so happy; the kind staff of Ideal Market who always greeted him as a friend, the Wells Fargo bank teller who always recognized him by name and greeted him with a smile, the anonymous passersby who mowed his lawn and shoveled his sidewalks, his neighbors who embraced and befriended him, and all of his friends who kept an eye on him especially Brian Morgan his lunch buddy and Marcia Pasquer who saved his life and sanity after Alice passed away. Thank you all for filling the last years of his life with friendship and laughter.

A celebration of Bill’s life is planned for Thanksgiving week. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent in Bill’s name to Amnesty International or KVOD (Colorado Public Radio ). View a photobook of Bill at


William Bill O Winter

have a memory or condolence to add?

Elizabeth Harlow Morley

January 5, 2013

Dr. Winter was an officer and a gentleman, And as a testimony to his absolute fairness to everyone, he was fair and kind to me - a blonde, Republican sorority girl who took two classes from him in the early 80's. He enjoyed teasing me about my support for Ronald Reagan and became a true friend after graduation. He followed, with interest, my post-college career and when I married a Naval officer, he loved to hear about our duty stations and to share war stories. Our Christmas card exchanges always included stimulating political debates. He never made me a Democrat and I promised not to make him a Republican. It was an honor to have had him as a professor and friend.

November 18, 2012

I first became intrigued with my now husband of 34 years, Loren Weinberg's political views. First and foremost he abhorred racism and that he strongly had in common with Bill Winter. When Loren and I first sat down to talk he told me of his dear friend and mentor Bill Winter. I remember him describing a dignified, smart, loving man, with adoration in his voice. I thought he must surely be exaggerating. Then I met Bill. Loren was not exaggerating! Bill and Alice, having known Loren for years, welcomed me into their home and friendship, unconditionally. Alice would, over the years, talk to me of all things cultural and political, while of course, watching a tennis match.And Bill, he treated me as though he had known me for a hundred years. Big hugs, warm smiles and patient insightful advice. We had children and he and Alice were so lovely to them. They thought Bill and Alice were their relatives. When they came to visit us in Spain, we stayed up late in the hot summer, no lights because even the bulbs were too hot and they imparted wisdom like it was warm butter sliding off the knife. Kind, unassuming and loving.
Loren was always happy and calm after his long coffees with Bill. He had an inexplicable effect on my husband that no one else has. Loren loved Bill and so did I. The world is changed without knowing he is here; ready to listen, kindly showing the world how it is done, right!!

November 17, 2012

We have so many happy memories of our special Halloween dinners and the long conversations with Bill. And we always loved running into him in town when he was riding his bike. Even though he was never our professor, his continued enthusiasm and commitment to the good of higher education inspired and refreshed us as we made our way through the pre-tenure laberinth. We will miss him. Mary Long, Rafael Moreno-Sanchez and Angela Moreno-Long

October 30, 2012

I have had the great fortune to have Bill Winter as my mentor, which in his case meant that he was also a friend. Bill had many proteges, in academia and in the local Democratic party. If you look at who we are it says everything about Bill, for we were nothing like him. Bill, a white male Protestant from the heartland, had proteges who nearly always were different from this; we were Black, female, Catholic, gay, Jewish and whoever else Bill could find, because Bill wanted to know all kinds of people; he wanted to know about our backgrounds and personalities and whatever he could learn that was not in his own experience. That interest in everyone, and in fairness for everyone, was profoundly Bill Winter. It also is interesting why each of us was so happy to have Bill as a mentor: trust. You could ALWAYS trust Bill; he would never mess with our lives, nor would he let anyone else do so. Our relationships with Bill were so honorable that we all modeled ourselves after his behavior when we became older and had mentor responsibilities ourselves, and his wise habits live on after him as a result. The intellectual stimulation would have been enough; with Bill, we got far more.

Bill was a fabulous role model for later life, too. An author of textbooks during his career, he turned to fiction-writing in retirement, producing a fascinating novel of the civil war, re-working an earlier draft novel of life in the oilfields in the 1930's and working on a third novel about the period of McCarthyism. No wonder he was always interesting to talk to.

I will miss Bill for the rest of my life.

Loren Weinberg

Jim Scarritt

October 8, 2012

Bill Winter was a major figure in bringing about positive change in the Department of Political Science at the University of Colorado. There were significant differences between older and younger members of the department. As an outsider, Bill was acceptable to both sides to become Chairman. Bill led the way in appointing good new faculty and supporting the research and promotion of younger faculty, including myself. After stepping down as Chair, he continued to support further positive changes. During the lunches at the Med that I enjoyed with Bill and Bryan over the last few years, Bill exhibited the sharpness of mind and wit and the good humor that he had exhibited during his entire time at the university.

Gerry Hudson

September 25, 2012

This is a marvelous obituary and testament to Bill's full life. The photos on Shutterfly do him great justice also. I am a long time friend and former student of Bill's at the University of Colorado. It was partly his example that I followed in my footsteps to become a political science professor. I will miss him very much, as will my wife, Anne.
--Gerry Hudson

Brian Hudson

September 25, 2012

I lived in Boulder for many years, and Bill and Alice were good friends of the family. After reading about Bill and his life history, one word comes to mind, "Wow"!

Nancy Hudson-Helmuth

September 25, 2012

Bill Winter was not only a dear friend but I always thought of him as a father figure. He watched me grow and was always giving me advice in his dry humor way. There will always be a place in my heart for him. Its comforting to know he's in the clouds with Alice and my mother Olive.
Peace be with you Bill.
Nancy Hudson-Helmuth

Chuck Squier

September 17, 2012

A chat with Bill Winter was always a pleasure. His dry, wry, and witty commentary enriched all who knew him and was one of the rewards of being a member of the University community and of course, of being a Democrat.

Carol Hurlburt

September 17, 2012

Bill was a patient at the dental office where I worked. Although I did not see him often, he made a tremendous impression on me. He had a quick wit, a kind heart, and a wonderful caring nature. There was always just a bit of mischief hiding behind that smile. I feel lucky to have known him, and I will miss him. My heart goes out to the ones he loved, and who loved him.