On Sunday, August 9th at sunrise, Robert Martin Winters went to be with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Robert went peacefully surrounded by his loving family.
Robert grew up in Castle Rock, Washington. He was the son of a logger and a saw filer, Martin Winters, and his wife Anna (Rosin) Winters who taught him to appreciate the Pacific Northwest. From his youth on, Rob love to roam the great outdoors. He got his first deer at the age of eight, and his last at the age of 92! As a fifth grader, Rob became acquainted with one of his lifelong loves-the trumpet! His daily practice allowed him to be so accomplished by Junior High School that during the Second World War, he and his cousin, Armin Rosin, were tasked with teaching high school band. As a young teen, Robert started going by the name of Bob, even launching his own nightcrawler bait business. Bob also worked at the local bakery in Castle Rock, usually getting several hours of work in before the start of the school day. Bob also played defensive lineman for the Castle Rockets Football Team and ended up playing at the state championships. Following graduation, he worked for a time with his father as a logger, and then enlisted in the U.S. Army to help with the war effort.
His Army service paved the way for college at Pacific Lutheran College where he met the love of his life Carolyn Johnson of Yakima, Washington while Christmas caroling… (Thank you Vonny for introducing them!) Their first date was a fly-fishing adventure where Bob provided a wonderfully romantic lunch-a tin of sardines and a can of pop. Any woman who could enjoy that kind of date was his kind of gal! They were soon engaged and married June 9th, 1951 after Bob’s graduation. Bob would often serenade his bride with trumpet solos, but “Stormy Weather” was their special song. Bob passed on his love of this song to his grandkids. Granddaughter Amy even sang this at her senior voice recital at Western Washington University in honor of her dear grandparents.
Bob received a music teaching contract with the Franklin Pierce School District following graduation, teaching most of his career at Parkland Grade School where he made many lifelong friendships. During Bob’s years at Parkland Elementary, he received a grant which enabled every fourth-grade student to play in the band. Bob wanted every student to experience the joy of music, and many continued on-some even getting college scholarships thanks to Bob’s excellent teaching and his ability to make it fun.
Bob would say, “I never worked a day in my life”. This was true for him as he taught band, and more so when he taught “Lifetime Sports”, also from a federal grant. Students built their own fly-fishing rods, learned to tie their own flies, went on fishing field trips, and learned basic archery skills. He also had a workshop in the school basement complete with all sorts of craft supplies, a potter’s wheel, kiln, and more. Bob was a man of many talents and loved to share them.
Bob retired from Franklin Pierce School District after 30 years and then switched to private schools (Puyallup Valley Christian and Concordia Lutheran), where he taught another 30 years. Concerts were always fun with the band doing theatrical things even in the midst of a concert… sometimes asking the students to play songs backwards! Bob even gave a private concert for family members on his trumpet the day before he passed, accompanied by Windsor the singing schnauzer.
Bob and Carolyn joined Trinity Lutheran Church in 1951, where they attended with many Pacific Lutheran College friends, and maintained his membership there until his passing. Bob loved to serve in the various men’s ministries over the years and had fond memories of men’s retreats at Hood Canal and men’s breakfasts featuring his homegrown blueberries in the pancakes.
In 1953, Bob’s first child was born-Linda Joy. Linda had a serious heart defect (an opening between the two upper chambers) which required surgery. Linda had to wait for five years before she was able to have a corrective surgery and was the first open heart surgery at Tacoma’s Mary Bridge Hospital. Six years after their marriage daughter Julie joined the family and son Darin five years later. As the family grew, they loved to spend time at their cabin on beautiful Hood Canal where they were surrounded by other friends who were also from Parkland and had nearby cabins.
Bob loved the various activities that the cabin provided: crabbing, shrimping, clamming, but most of all-fishing…and nothing could top the adventures to be had in Lilliwaup Swamp catching fresh trout and cooking some for lunch right over the fire.
Whenever the extended family would visit there was always a fishing derby, fish on the grill, and crab in the “beer garden”. These wonderful memories were often followed by card games in the evening with close friends the Gilbertson’s, the Kyllo’s, the Schafer’s, the Storaasli’s, and the Ramey’s just to name a few. Bob often brought along some of his homemade marionberry wine, his signature brew, for all to enjoy.
Bob loved the family reunions at the family park on the Toutle River, with his sister’s family (Anna Henke), particularly spending Thanksgiving at the family farm.
In 1977, Julie introduced Paul to her father who asked Bob for her hand in marriage. Bob replied: “Do you promise to go hunting and fishing with me?”… He answered in the affirmative which began a close friendship with over 40 years of shared adventures. There were only two seasons on Bob’s calendar - hunting and fishing!
Following the home-going of his beloved wife Carolyn, Bob began another hobby – writing his memoirs and stories. At first, they were family stories, about the early years in Castle Rock, then came the hunting stories…some even ended with the statement – “truth or fiction – you decide!” When he had recorded all his hunting adventures, Bob began making up fictional stories and finally science fiction! He wrote almost 300 stories in his last 4 years, and managed to insert humor in most of them.
Bob loved his large print Bible which was always at his side and as the physical challenges became greater, he spent more time reading his devotional - Jesus always ,by Sarah Young.
It was his faith that sustained him through the trials of life, and there were many in the almost 93 years! In addition to the trials – there were many God-given blessings too. Bob modeled a consistent and faithful walk with the Lord his entire life.
Bob is greatly missed, but his family knows that those who have placed their faith and trust in Jesus Christ will see him again!
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