The country lost a leading figure in efforts to forge racial harmony and equality, while The National WWII Museum lost a friend and champion with the passing of Gov. William Winter (Mississippi, 1980-1984) on Friday, December 18, 2020.
Winter was born in 1923 in Grenada County, Mississippi. He came up during the Depression on a cotton and cattle farm. Winter was in the ROTC program at Ole Miss when Pearl Harbor was attacked. His studies would continue until they were interrupted in June 1943, one year prior to his scheduled graduation. He served in the US Army and was assigned to a division that was set to invade mainland Japan. He served in the Philippines with the 341st Infantry Regiment, 86th Infantry Division just outside of Manila, beginning postwar occupation duty in October 1945. Winter’s assignments in the Philippines including rounding up Japanese stragglers still holding out in the mountains and to disarm the Filipino guerrillas who had taken up arms against the Japanese occupiers. He returned to the United States in July 1946.
Governor Winter’s oral history, lives in the Museum’s collection and can be viewed at the link below.
In 2016 the Museum bestowed the American Spirit Medallion upon Gov. Winter for his service to his country in World War II and beyond.
The Museum’s thoughts go out to his wife of 70 years, Elise Varner Winter, their three daughters, five grandchildren, and five great grandchildren.