Happy birthday to Bill Windsor‘s father, Walter M. Windsor.
Dad would have been 103-years-old today.
He went to Heaven 13 years ago…
My father died of acid reflux. The acid ate away his epiglottis, so everything he swallowed went into his lungs. He died on Leap Year Day in 2008. I figure he planned it that way so we would only think of his death every four years.
My father was an exceptional man. He was an off-the-charts genius with a heart bigger than his intellect.
Here’s an obituary that ran in the Orlando Sentinel. I love him with all my heart, think of him often, and miss him so very much.
He was born September 22, 1918 in New York City. His mother died when he was 2, and his father was a performer who was usually on the road, so Walter lived with various relatives for the first few years of his life and was largely living on his own from age 11.
He was poor BEFORE the Great Depression hit in 1929, and it is a miracle that he survived those years. In 1935 at the age of 16, he began his career as a singer and actor on the radio. He also wrote jokes for W.C. Fields and loved to tell the story of how he was fired because he had the nerve to try to tell W.C. Fields how to deliver one of his lines.
During the 1930s he moved around the country working in radio. He served in the US Army during World War II in Armed Forces Radio, and had the opportunity to work with such stars as Bob Hope, Ella Fitzgerald, and Glen Miller. He entered the service as a Private and advanced to Lieutenant by the end of his military career.
After the war, he began what would be a very successful career in broadcast management, first in radio, later in television. It was while at WDVA in Danville that his life took its most fortuitous turn. One day, shortly after arriving in town, he saw a lovely young woman sweeping the front porch of the Burton Hotel. In the brief moment he saw her, she made a strong impression on him as “beautiful and sparkling.”
Not long after, this same young woman applied for a job at the radio station he was managing. Her name was Mary Garnett Johnson. He liked to joke that he hired her, married her, and fired her. It took him awhile to convince her to go out with her boss, but once she agreed, they went out every night for 13 nights in a row, and on the 14th date, he presented her with a diamond ring and asked her to marry him.
She said yes, even though she still referred to him as Mr. Windsor! They were married in Danville on November 29, 1947 and had 30 wonderful years together before she was taken from him by breast cancer in 1977. The first time he came to Orlando on business, he stood on the balcony of his hotel overlooking Lake Eola and said to himself, “This is the place.”
In 1969, he moved the family to Central Florida, where he became General Manager of WFTV Channel 9. He became familiar to viewers with his editorials and his own TV show about the movies called “Filmography.” He was also well known for his philanthropic and charitable activities throughout his career. In Orlando, he was the President of PESO and served as Master of Ceremonies for their annual TV auction every year.
During his 54 year career in broadcasting, Walter Windsor was very active in the industry. He once said that he was born to be a performer and was only acting the part of a TV station manager, and he was active in community theatres in several of the cities where he lived. He appeared in many shows including Daddy Warbucks in “Annie” and Matthew Harrison Brady in “Inherit the Wind.” In retirement, he enjoyed his 6 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren.
After finally putting down roots in Orlando for 36 years, he moved to Dacula, Georgia in 2005 to live with his son. Walter Michael Windsor was a good man who lived a good life. He had a brilliant mind and a big heart. He was blessed with an interesting and successful career, a happy marriage, and a loving family. He made and kept friends from all the places he went in his 89 years. In 1997, as a Christmas gift to his family, he wrote a book about his life entitled, Forks in the Road. He has now taken the final fork in that road. He will be missed.
Walter Windsor is survived by 4 children, William Michael Windsor of Atlanta, GA, Anthony Beck Windsor of Dacula, GA, Wendy Windsor Harper of Orlando, FL and Marty Windsor of Longwood, FL; 6 grandchildren, Brittany Windsor Harrell of Smyrna, GA, Ryan Windsor of Austin, TX, Chip Harper of Orlando, FL, Amber Harper Maroon of Orlando, FL, Nicholas Harper or Orlando, FL and Stephanie Shultz of Longwood, FL; 5 great-grandchildren, Madison Harrell of Smyrna, GA, Brianna Harper, Kaylyn Harper, Kurt Harper, and Myles Maroon, all of Orlando, FL; brother, Howard Garland Sartin of Banning, CA; daughter in law, Barbara Gray Windsor of Atlanta, GA and son in law, Harvey Harper of Orlando, FL.
If you want to reach Bill Windsor, his address is 100 East Oak Terrace Drive, Unit B3, Leesburg, Florida 34748.
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