OBITUARY

Judge S. Pretlow Winborne

March 5, 1923May 9, 2019

Pretlow Winborne of Atlantic, a retired attorney and District Court judge, died peacefully Thursday, May 9, 2019, at Lower Cape Fear Hospice in Wilmington. He was 96 years old.

Samuel Pretlow Winborne was born in Murfreesboro on March 5, 1923, the sixth of Stanley and Frances Jernigan Winborne’s seven children. His father was appointed to the State Utilities Commission in 1930, and the Winbornes moved to Raleigh with chicken coops tied on back of the family’s Hudson.

“Of course, we brought our chickens with us,” Winborne told an interviewer in 1965. “There were nine of us in the family. It was during the lean years, and chickens were hard to come by.”

Winborne attended school in Raleigh before entering Virginia Episcopal School in Lynchburg, Va. He played basketball as a freshman at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. He interrupted his studies during World War II to enter the Army Air Corps. Serving as the upper turret gunner in a B-29 bomber in the China Burma India Theater, he earned the Air Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross. Winborne returned to Chapel Hill after the war and resumed his studies earning his law degree in 1950. It was there that he fell in love with a fellow student, Ferne Llewellyn Hughes and they were married in June 1949.

Winborne began practicing law in Raleigh with his brother Vaughan in 1950. He became a prosecutor in Raleigh City Court in 1957, and a City Court Judge in 1960.

“The pulse of our community beats in City Court,” Winborne said then. “Toward the end of a long day with one defendant after another flowing through City Court, it is like constant waves rolling ashore. I see them coming, swelling and then crashing over my head. And from this process we are to gather the fragile flower of justice.”

Winborne was elected a Wake County District Court judge in 1969.

The courts were watched closely during tense and sometimes violent racial clashes in the 1960s. He rebuked the Ku Klux Klan and “bigots” during the trial of a young white man for assaulting an elderly black man in October 1965, and the Klan took notice. One evening Winborne found a flaming cross – a KKK weapon of intimidation – on the lawn of his Blount Street home.

Winborne invited his neighbors over to roast hot dogs in the dying flames, and he laughed at the Kluxers. Winborne told The News & Observer, “We just had a good old time.”

Years later, on a flight to California, Winborne was delighted to come across an account of his wiener roast while reading “Blood Done Sign My Name,” Tim Tyson’s civil rights history. Winborne stepped down after 18 years on the bench in 1978, and he and Ferne moved to the seaside town of Atlantic. He practiced law intermittently for 20 years in Carteret County, sometimes accepting payment from clients in fish, shrimp and oysters. His favorite outing was a trip to the county dump. More often than not he returned with a broken chair that he would mend or a toy to be fixed for neighborhood children.

He was devoted to Ferne and her passions for shrimping, weaving, raising sheep and caring for stray cats and dogs. After Ferne passed away in 2000, Pretlow kept busy repairing furniture, caning chairs and weaving baskets from the wisteria vines that flourished around his house in Atlantic. He lived independently in Atlantic until five years ago, when after a heart attack, his daughter May moved to Atlantic to care for him.

Pretlow Winborne is survived by his daughters, Ferne Winborne and her husband Mitch Wilds of Louisburg, and May Winborne-Rice and her husband Carter Rice of Wilmington; his son, Hughes Winborne and his wife Regina Okasaki de Freitas of Los Angeles; his daughter-in-law Betsy Winborne; his grandchildren, Elizabeth, Rosa, Alex, Wyatt, Sarah and Diego; and his sister, Rosa West Tucker of Southern Pines.

He was predeceased by his wife of 50 years, Ferne H. Winborne, in 2000, and by their son Sam in 2011.

Winborne’s family wishes to thank the caring staffs of Kindred Hospice in Oxford and Lower Cape Fear Hospice in Wilmington.

The Winborne family will receive friends Sunday, May 12, between 2pm and 5pm at the Polk House, 537 North Blount Street, in Raleigh.

Arrangements by Brown-Wynne Funeral Home, Saint Mary’s Street, Raleigh, NC.

  • FAMILY

  • Pretlow Winborne is survived by his daughters, Ferne Winborne and her husband Mitch Wilds of Louisburg, and May Winborne-Rice and her husband Carter Rice of Wilmington; his son, Hughes Winborne and his wife Regina Okasaki de Freitas of Los Angeles; his daughter-in-law Betsy Winborne; his grandchildren, Elizabeth, Rosa, Alex, Wyatt, Sarah and Diego; and his sister, Rosa West Tucker of Southern Pines. He was predeceased by his wife of 50 years, Ferne H. Winborne, in 2000, and by their son Sam in 2011.

Services

  • A gathering celebrating Judge Winborne's life Sunday, May 12, 2019

Memories

Judge S. Pretlow Winborne

have a memory or condolence to add?

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Gilbert Stewart

May 17, 2019

I was so excited to hear that your dad made it to 96! What an accomplishment, which I am sure is due in part to his loving family. I can still remember spending time in your home on Blount St. and thinking this was such a fun house to be in. The Winbornes were just a fun family and I loved staring at all the handsome men, especially big Pretlow. Times spent down at Oriental was another memory that I fondly remember. Your mom would take my dad out on moonlit sailboat rides and my mother would always say, “If there was ever anyone who could lure your dad away from me it would be Fern Winborne! Your dad was the ultimate gentleman and would always encourage everyone to do whatever they wanted! I can remember saying to myself when I get old, like 40, I’m still wearing a bikini like Fern Winborne. I vividly remember my parents speaking so highly of your dad, stating what a fair judge he was and how he was always for the underdog! It is amazing how those thoughts can stick with a young person, actually helping form their opinions and beliefs b/c of the actions of an individual. Throughout a life lived in service and empowered by love of family Pretlow attended to mankind; family, friends, neighbors and strangers. He will not be forgotten and I feel privileged to have known him, if only for a brief period in my life. I’m thinking about you all and sending love. Fondly, Gilbert

John Moore

May 15, 2019

I sat in judge winnbornes court in the summer of 1976, about 5 weeks or so.
I believe that man should have been put on the US Supreme Court,! I hope his legal philosophy is written down somewhere and can be taught to law school students. I volunteer to become the first Pretlow Winborn scholar at Campbell University School Of Law!

Cynthia Schersching

May 14, 2019

I am sorry to hear of your loss. Although I did not know Mr. Winborne, his obituary in the Morehead City News Times on May 12th, caught my attention. I apologize in advance for writing to you at this time, but didn't know how else I might reach you.

Mr. Winborne's WWII military experience parallels my father's. I am very interested to know as much about this military experience as I can and wonder if there were stories, photos, news articles, etc., that exist that you would be willing to share.

My father died in 2010. As you know, many who served did not talk about those times, but given Mr. Winborne's distinquished career, I thought you may have some information -or can direct me to other sources .

I can be reached by email: cynnc07@gmail.com. Thank you for your consideration and I again apologize for any disruption.

Robert L. McMillan

May 10, 2019

To the family of Judge Pretlow Winborne,

I write this tribute to tell you of my admiration of Judge Winborne. He followed me as prosecutor of the old Raleigh City Court. As a prosecutor he was vigorous and always fair. He was courageous and willing to drop a case when he had no case. When he had a case he prosecuted it without fear or favoritism. I speak as an opponent in hundreds of cases.
As a criminal defense lawyer I appeared in his court thousands of times. He never convicted a client of mine that should not have been convicted. He acquitted every client of mine who should have been acquitted. He acquitted many through mercy and grace.
His integrity was absolute! His courage was indomitable. His grace and mercy were almost holy.
He would scoff at this - but I say it all out of gratitude and sincere respect.

Robert L. McMillan

Anne Noyes

May 9, 2019

My husband and I were fortunate enough to move next door to Pretlow and Ferne Winborne in 1997. It was not long before I found out about their love for their cats and dogs. At one time I was helping feed 33 feral/tame cats at what was known as the Long House in Atlantic....a place where Ferne did her weaving and had sheep and cats...lots! I remember when we planted a wisteria between our houses and Pretlow came out and said it would grow fast and we would not have to see him in his pajama pants. I long for that time again. I have missed Ferne since she passed, and know Art and I will miss Pretlow greatly. He was a fine man, a great teller of tales and history and his past adventures, and an all around great man. Rest peacefully our friend.

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Biography

Pretlow Winborne of Atlantic, a retired attorney and District Court judge, died peacefully Thursday, May 9, 2019, at Lower Cape Fear Hospice in Wilmington. He was 96 years old.

Samuel Pretlow Winborne was born in Murfreesboro on March 5, 1923, the sixth of Stanley and Frances Jernigan Winborne’s seven children. His father was appointed to the State Utilities Commission in 1930, and the Winbornes moved to Raleigh with chicken coops tied on back of the family’s Hudson.

“Of course, we brought our chickens with us,” Winborne told an interviewer in 1965. “There were nine of us in the family. It was during the lean years, and chickens were hard to come by.”

Winborne attended school in Raleigh before entering Virginia Episcopal School in Lynchburg, Va. He played basketball as a freshman at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. He interrupted his studies during World War II to enter the Army Air Corps. Serving as the upper turret gunner in a B-29 bomber in the China Burma India Theater, he earned the Air Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Winborne returned to Chapel Hill after the war and resumed his studies earning his law degree in 1950. It was there that he fell in love with a fellow student, Ferne Llewellyn Hughes and they were married in June 1949.

Winborne began practicing law in Raleigh with his brother Vaughan in 1950. He became a prosecutor in Raleigh City Court in 1957, and a City Court Judge in 1960.

“The pulse of our community beats in City Court,” Winborne said then. “Toward the end of a long day with one defendant after another flowing through City Court, it is like constant waves rolling ashore. I see them coming, swelling and then crashing over my head. And from this process we are to gather the fragile flower of justice.”

Winborne was elected a Wake County District Court judge in 1969.

The courts were watched closely during tense and sometimes violent racial clashes in the 1960s. He rebuked the Ku Klux Klan and “bigots” during the trial of a young white man for assaulting an elderly black man in October 1965, and the Klan took notice. One evening Winborne found a flaming cross – a KKK weapon of intimidation – on the lawn of his Blount Street home.

Winborne invited his neighbors over to roast hot dogs in the dying flames, and he laughed at the Kluxers. Winborne told The News & Observer, “We just had a good old time.”

Years later, on a flight to California, Winborne was delighted to come across an account of his wiener roast while reading “Blood Done Sign My Name,” Tim Tyson’s civil rights history.

Winborne stepped down after 18 years on the bench in 1978, and he and Ferne moved to the seaside town of Atlantic. He practiced law intermittently for 20 years in Carteret County, sometimes accepting payment from clients in fish, shrimp and oysters. His favorite outing was a trip to the county dump. More often than not he returned with a broken chair that he would mend or a toy to be fixed for neighborhood children.

He was devoted to Ferne and her passions for shrimping, weaving, raising sheep and caring for stray cats and dogs. After Ferne passed away in 2000, Pretlow kept busy repairing furniture, caning chairs and weaving baskets from the wisteria vines that flourished around his house in Atlantic. He lived independently in Atlantic until five years ago, when after a heart attack, his daughter May moved to Atlantic to care for him.

Pretlow Winborne is survived by his daughters, Ferne Winborne and her husband Mitch Wilds of Louisburg, and May Winborne-Rice and her husband Carter Rice of Wilmington; his son, Hughes Winborne and his wife Regina Okasaki de Freitas of Los Angeles; his daughter-in-law Betsy Winborne; his grandchildren, Elizabeth, Rosa, Alex, Wyatt, Sarah and Diego; and his sister, Rosa West Tucker of Southern Pines.

He was predeceased by his wife of 50 years, Ferne H. Winborne, in 2000, and by their son Sam in 2011.

Winborne’s family wishes to thank the caring staffs of Kindred Hospice in Oxford and Lower Cape Fear Hospice in Wilmington.

The Winborne family will receive friends Sunday, May 12, between 2pm and 5pm at the Polk House, 537 North Blount Street, in Raleigh.

Arrangements by Brown-Wynne Funeral Home, Saint Mary’s Street, Raleigh, NC.