As former Dallas Cowboy’s running back, Emmitt Smith stated, “I’ve given everything I can possible to the game, on and off the field.” Everyone—from the young to the old, from the athletic to the wish-they-were-athletic, to the competitive go-getters, to the complacent observers—all play in the game known as life. A very special man to so many gave his all and more not only in his life, but also the lives of others. He kept his nerve through life’s tackles. He celebrated in moments of victory. He learned from fumbles. He also led his family, his own special team, to some of the most memorable and loving moments in life. Garry Frederick Winters, a beloved husband, a devoted father, a doting grandfather, a dependable neighbor, and constant friend, lived his life to the fullest and will always be remembered as his family’s very own MVP.
On Tuesday, May 24, 1949 in Elkins, West Virginia, a bubbly baby boy was born to delighted parents, Frederick LeRoy and Roselea Winters. At a very young age, Garry, his brother, his sister, and his parents moved to the small, rural town of North Jackson in Ohio. Garry grew up like any small-town boy—mischievous and yet mannerly too. He went to North Jackson High School and occupied his free time playing the drums in a small band. The band specialized in playing gospel music for the town’s folk and for the church. When he graduated from high school, Garry began his career with Henkels & McCoy as a draftsman and telephone engineer. His job required him to travel to various places across the United States including Philadelphia and Puerto Rico. Perhaps it was through his travels that he grew fond of Texas and quickly threw in his hat when a position with his company opened in Dallas, Texas. Perhaps he desired the warm Texas weather compared to Ohio’s frigid conditions. Perhaps he just wanted a change of pace to good ole’ Southern hospitality and charm. Or perhaps, and most likely, he came to Texas as quickly as he could to be closer to his and America’s favorite team, the one and only, Dallas Cowboys.
Garry made the move to Dallas, Texas in the summer of 1977 right when the Cowboys were about to start their season. He made plans to purchase season tickets for the Cowboys, but instead was given a year’s worth of regular tickets. When the Cowboys went into the playoffs, he was surprised that he also had to buy playoff tickets since he thought he had originally purchased season tickets that would cover the playoff games. However, like any true fan, Garry bought the playoff tickets to support his favorite team, but when the next football season came around, Garry made sure he purchased actual season tickets for himself and for one more. As NFL quarterback Tom Brady claims, “Football is unconditional love.” While Garry moved to Dallas for his love of football, little did he realized he would find unconditional love at the same time. Garry was set to move into an apartment complex in Dallas, and so he attended a mixer that the apartment complex was hosting prior to his move in date. While there, he met his future wife, Judy Land, and it was love at first sight. They hit it off right away, falling deeper and deeper in love with each other. After a year of dating, Garry and Judy eloped and became man and wife on September 8, 1978. Judy became Garry’s designated gameday partner as she sat with him in their season ticket seats and watched every game. Garry held his season tickets for both of them from 1977 until the new AT&T Stadium opened. At this time, Judy had to stop attending the games with her husband due to health reasons, but Garry did what any loyal husband and football fan would do—he sold one season ticket but kept the other. Since coming to Dallas 41 years ago, Garry has never, not even once, missed a Dallas Cowboys game, regardless whether it was a winning season or a not-so-good season. He attended Superbowls 27, 28, 29, and 30 where he cheered on the Cowboys during Superbowl 27, 28, and 30. These were some of the best games of his life. However, despite his love of the Cowboys, Garry has always been the #1 fan of his wife and his family.
In 1999, Henkels & McCoy closed their offices, but like any good defensive end, Garry didn’t let this tackle bring him down. He began subcontracting his services with others to support himself and his wife. When he wasn’t working or watching the big game, Garry had many passions to fill his life. One of Garry’s greatest hobbies and gifts was showing off his culinary skills in the kitchen. He loved to cook for just about anyone with his hospitable personality. Some of his favorite recipes to make were Chicken Marsala, Steak au Poivre, and Chicken with Grape Sauce. His grandchildren swear that he made the best Chicken Marsala! Garry was also known for making a good pot of chili. When he entered into a chili cookoff, he went all out and purchased a chef’s hat, jacket, and pants. Not only did he look the part, but his chili tasted so good that he won that Chili Cookoff. Garry would often get ideas for his cooking by watching the Cooking Channel and Food Network with his wife and looking at different websites. Garry loved to try new things in the kitchen and would always be striving to improve or tweak his recipes. Judy always read off recipes to Garry as he would skillfully make the ingredients and seasonings come to life. However, Garry was never afraid to go off and do his own thing in the kitchen. As American chef, Thomas Keller, claims, “A recipe has no soul. You, as the cook, must bring soul to the recipe” and Garry put his heart and soul into the delicious food he made. Along with his love of cooking, Garry had a love of eating. Not only did he enjoy eating the foods he cooked, but he also liked going to different restaurants. He enjoyed Mi Camino as well as sushi restaurants, but to him and his wife, Blue Fish was a special place for special occasions. Occasionally, Garry would indulge in a White Zinfandel, dessert wine, or an iced tea with Makers Mark Bourbon as he ate any and all sorts of desserts. Along with cooking and eating, Garry had a passion for photography. He frequently took pictures of his family—whether they wanted the pictures or not. Garry had a way of catching the best moments within his family’s life. He’d occasionally catch a shot or two of his Dobermans as well. Garry loved his Dobermans Anna Belle and Azure; they were his buddies whether he was watching the game or just enjoying his cup of coffee in the morning. Garry had a talent for photography and used his talent alongside his passion of football. Garry got the great privilege of taking photographs on the sidelines of various Cowboys games. Some of these special games included the Superbowls he attended. Garry had a love for music ever since he played the drums in high school so long ago. Although his love of music never changed, his taste of music morphed over the years. He grew to like various bands like The Rolling Stones, The Birds, and The Doors. Garry went with his brother, Frank, to many concerts including the Robert Plant and Allison Kraus Band, Rush, a tribute to Led Zepplin by the Dallas Symphony, and, most recently, Van Morrison. Garry’s life was full of passions and joys, but his greatest joy and most beloved passion was his family.
Author Arnold H. Glasow claimed that, “in life, as in football, you won’t go far unless you know where the goalposts are.” With Garry, he seemed to realize that his life’s goalposts were his family. He loved his family very much and became the “Grandpa” and “Gramps” that any grandchild would ever hope for. He frequently took his grandsons to arena football games and Cowboys games. Every so often, he’d take them to get autographs of all the best players and even the cheerleaders. These autographs were as treasured as that special bonding moment between the generations. The fun did not stop at football though; Garry enjoyed playing several other games as well. With his grandsons, Garry bought an Xbox just to be able to play and connect with his grandchildren. Even when his grandchildren moved away, Garry kept playing and bonding with them via the internet as they would play Black Ops 2. He’d also play card games like Skip-bo and Phase 10 with his grandchildren. For his granddaughters, Garry treated them like little princesses. He would take them wherever they wanted to go whether that was to the movie theater, out shopping at the mall, or going out for breakfast. Eating breakfast with Grandpa was a big treat that made each grandchild feel special. Garry knew how to have fun with his grandchildren, but he also knew how to set an example for them as well. Former Cowboys head coach Tom Landry used to say that “a winner never stops trying.” Garry was constantly trying to influence and teach his grandchildren things that he thought were important in life. He taught them how to work with their hands as he would start and complete projects around his house. He’d strap on his handyman belt and begin hammering away while making sure the grandchildren were hammering with their own toy hammers. He’d remodel the kitchen, fix leaks and cracks, build something beautiful out of wood, and teach all while doing it. Not only did he teach his grandchildren how to work with their hands, but he also taught them many other lessons as well. Through his perseverance, Garry taught his grandchildren how to get the job done and the benefits of staying busy. However, he also taught them how to be good neighbors as he not only worked on his own house, but around the homes around his neighborhood as well. Garry strove to influence his grandchildren, but his grandchildren had a sway of their own. For a long time, Garry drove a pickup truck, but when it was time to buy a new car, his grandchildren convinced him on a whim to test-drive a Hummer H2. Garry, being the obliging grandfather, agreed to the wishes of his grandchildren. Little did he know, he’d drive out with his own Hummer H2! He grew so attached to his Hummer that when it was stolen, he went and got another Hummer to replace it. Other than being known as an avid Hummer owner, Garry was also known for being a trickster and joker with his family. He’d always play little jokes on his grandchildren, make his wife think a spider or bug was crawling on her arm, or making his children laugh and smile. He had such a good, warm heart that desired for others to be happy and joyful. Garry’s grandchildren and his whole family impacted Garry as much as he impacted them. Garry truly loved each member of his family very, very much in his own special way.
Vince Lombardi said once that, “there is only one way to succeed in anything…and that is to give it everything.” Garry succeeded in life because he gave his all during his life. However, to the sorrow of his family, friends, and neighbors, Garry passed away unexpectedly on Wednesday, October 24, 2018 in Farmers Branch, Texas. His passing left many shocked and all heartbroken. His laughter and jokes, his cooking and recipes, his shouts and smiles at games, and his unconditional love for his family will be missed by those who loved him so dearly. Garry was a special man to so many due to his special and caring heart.
Garry Frederick Winters is survived by his loving wife of 40 years, Judy Winters; his beloved sons, Jeff Winters and his wife, Teresa, and Gabe Winters; the daughter he never had, Michelle Patrick; his treasured grandchildren, Christian Winters, Johnny Winters, Brittany Stutzman, Garry David Winters, Noel Patrick, and Noah Patrick; his brother, Frank Winters; his sister, Kathy Payne and her husband, John; his great-grandchildren, C.J. Winters, Liam Winters, Evans Stutzman, Cadyen Stutzman, and Avery Jackson; his niece, Sherry Holk; his nephew, Michael Payne; and his many friends and neighbors. Garry Winters is preceded in death by his parents, Frederick Leroy and Roselea Ball Winters.
The visitation in honor of Garry Winter’s life will be held on Tuesday, October 30, 2018 from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM at Hughes Family Tribute Center. The funeral service for Garry will be held the following day, Wednesday, October 31, 2018 at 11:00 AM at Hughes Family Tribute Center. Garry Winters will be laid to rest at Laurel Land Memorial Park immediately following his funeral service.
Garry Frederick Winters was beloved by so many in his life. His legacy, his life, and his heart will live on through those who he impacted the most—his loving friends and family.