Ford William Winter, an accomplished athlete, teacher, entertainer, and sailor, died on November 18, 2022, in Morganton, N.C. He was 85.
Born on June 26, 1937, in Ossining, N. Y., he was the son of William Edward and Dorothy (Ford) Winter. He spent his early years in Hawthorne, N.Y., near his grandmother, Dora Ford, and his great-grandparents, Gustav and Marie Stein, all of whom were a great influence on his life.
His immediate family moved to Dunbarton, N.H., where he attended a two-room school through the eighth grade. He embraced the New England community, making many lifelong friends. He graduated from Concord High School where he played football, ran track, and was a Golden Glove boxer.
In 1955 he joined the U.S. Navy where he served four years aboard the submarine, USS Conger.
He attended the University of Miami on an athletic scholarship and competed as a diver on the three-meter board and swam in various events.
At the urging of his sister Gail, he pursued a master’s degree at Springfield College. His thesis involved an analysis of revolution in twisting dives in springboard competition.
On June 9, 1962, he married Neva Claire Wyrick in Alliance, Ohio. They celebrated their sixtieth wedding anniversary last year.
He began his teaching career in physical education in Camillus, N.Y., where he coached swimming, diving, and other sports.
In 1968, he was hired as aquatics director by the Mamaroneck Public Schools. Subsequently, he taught physical education at Hommocks Middle School, where he coached a number of diving champions.
For many years, he kept a 36-foot Alden cutter sailboat at the Rye Marina. “He was a sea captain in a former life,” quipped his wife. “He could sail, operate, fix, and restore any boat.” One of his dreams, she added, was to sell hotdogs from a tugboat. Many longtime residents remember seeing Mr. Winter steering The Richard B. Owen around Rye waters, often transporting people and goods to and from Hen Island. He named the tug in memory of his close friend. He and Mr. Owen met in the Navy and later taught in the same school system.
After retiring early, at age 55, Mr. Winter began to act, sing, and dance on the stage and in cabaret. He also began composing songs with memorable melodies and clever lyrics. He performed his final cabaret act, “Ford Winter and Friends”, on October 18, 2013, at the Laurie Beechman Theater in New York City.
Nearly a decade ago, he and his wife moved to North Carolina, leaving behind boating and the life on Long Island Sound that he ardently loved his entire adult life. In his new home, he admired the integrity, knowledge, friendliness, and folk wisdom of his new friends. He also enjoyed the abundance of vintage cars there.
His wife survives him as do his sons, John and Kevin Winter, who inherited his musical talent, wit, humor, and kindness, as well as his keen interest in old cars; and his sister, Gail Buschen, who remained a positive presence and staunch supporter of her brother throughout his life. His younger brother, Dennis Winter, predeceased him.
A Celebration of Ford Winter’s life will be held June 17 at 2 p.m. at Rye Recreation.
Donations in his memory may be made to Save the Bird Homestead
624 Milton Road, Rye, New York, 10580. The Ford Winter Fund will be used to promote ecological studies and actions for middle school students learning ways to protect the waters of Blind Brook and Long Island Sound.