Richard M Winokur
July 17, 1933 – March 7, 2019
A Life of Service and Dedication for “The Culligan Man”
Richard “Dick” Winokur, 85, died peacefully in his sleep on March 7, 2019 in The Villages, FL.
Dick was born in 1933 to Samuel Winokur and Dorothy “Dot” Winokur (née Hershman) and raised in Mount Vernon, NY. He showed promise as a leader from an early age and was elected class president in fifth grade. Although his teacher impeached him (because he may not have been a model student) and called for a new election, he was elected again by his peers. The teacher gave up and let him serve.
He was a graduate of The Hotchkiss School, in Lakeville, CT, as were his father and brothers. Like his father, brothers Jay and Andy, cousin John Resnik, and many other relatives, he attended Yale University and graduated in 1955. At Yale, he studied political science, history, and economics, was a pitcher and outfielder for the Davenport College baseball team, and earned top rank in his Army ROTC class. He later attended Yale Law School, another family tradition that included his father; he graduated in 1958 in the top of his class. Prior to graduating, he married Joan Heller in 1957; they had three children, Dale, Ted, and James. He passed the bar in Connecticut, Florida, and New York, and joked that he loved taking exams.
Dick served in the Army and was stationed at Fort Sill, OK, and Fort Benning, GA. After his military service, he and his family moved to New Haven, CT, New York, and Miami. They eventually settled in Weston, CT.
In New York, he worked for the law firm Skadden Arps. In Miami, he was a partner at Truett & Watkins doing general practice. His most notable case was representing Kentucky Fried Chicken in a suit regarding the “KFC” name, and he even met the Colonel himself. He joined his father, Sam, in the family business, Culligan Water Conditioning, in 1968 and became “The Culligan Man.” His sons, Ted and James, would later join him to help expand the business.
He was a community leader in Weston, CT. Dick served on the Weston Board of Education for 8 years, including the last two as Chairman. He then filled an unexpired term of one of the town’s Selectmen, followed by four years on the Conservation Commission. Finally, he served eight years on the Weston Police Commission, and during that time he was President and then Board Chairman of the Police Commissioner’s Association of Connecticut. In 1976, he ran as a Democrat in a campaign for State Representative from the 135th Assembly District of Connecticut. While the “Win with Winokur” slogan was catchy, the campaign was ultimately unsuccessful.
In 1987, he married Lorene “Lori” Cossitt and after selling his franchises and retiring from Culligan in 1998, they moved to Sarasota, FL to enjoy the sunshine. They relocated to The Villages in 2006. Dick played tennis for many years and confused his opponents by switching the racket between hands so he could always play a forehand shot. He was an accomplished golfer and was known to play a game of pickleball from time to time. He was an avid collector of presidential campaign materials, baseball cards, antique scales and found his best bridge partner in Lori. The pair took a world cruise in 1999 and brought home scores of souvenirs for their loved ones.
He was the proud owner of several poodles over his life, starting with his beloved Nicky, his barking birthday gift as a child. Later, he enjoyed the company of Flip, Napoleon, and Bliss. His most recent canine companion was a cherished papillon named Poppy.
He is preceded in death by his mother and father, Samuel and Dorothy, brother, Jay Winokur, and step-mother, Catherine Neidle Winokur.
Dick is survived by his wife of 31 years, Lorene “Lori” Cossitt Winokur, his former wife Joan Heller Winokur of Fort Myers, FL, his three children, Dale Troy and her husband Alex of Wilton, CT; Ted Winokur and his wife JeanMarie of Stowe, VT; and James Winokur and his wife Meaghan of Wayland, MA; his beloved grandchildren, Ariel, Abby, and Rachel Troy; Sarah and Justin Winokur; and Laine and Alicia Winokur; his step-children, Leslie Cossitt Striebe and her husband Ed of Northfield, VT and their children, Brendan and Kayla; Wiley Cossitt of Lisbon, Portugal and her children Bo and Emilie Stark; Carrie Cossitt Bonvini and her husband Bob of Newtown, CT and their children Nico, Andrew, and Nina Bonvini; Chip Cossitt and his wife Shelley of Laguna Niguel, CA and their children Charley and Weston Cossitt.
He is also survived by his brothers, Andrew Winokur of West Hartford, CT and Matthew Winokur of New York, NY, his cousin John Resnik of West Palm Beach, FL, as well as many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
The family would like to extend their thanks to Jennifer Lee and the other caregivers and hospice workers who made Dick’s final years comfortable and filled with kindness.
Dick will be buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Hawthorne, NY. In lieu of flowers, donations in Dick’s memory may be made to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research at https://www.michaeljfox.org/get-involved/donation2.php