Theodore's Story

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Theodore Van Winkle, McLeansboro, passed away at home on Feb. 9, 2016, survived by his wife of 64 years, Betty Gail (Summers) Van Winkle; and his daughter, Cynthia G. Thomas and husband Steve of Mt Vernon; his son, James L. Van Winkle and his wife, Lois, of Dahlgren; and his daughter, Theodora Ann Barenholtz and her husband, Jan, of Fairfield, Conn. He was also survived by his six grandchildren, Adrienne E. Van Winkle and her fiancé, Seth T. Bridge of Washington, D.C., Jonathan L. Van Winkle of Dahlgren, Michael J. Bassi, of Covington, Ky., Daniel Barenholtz of Fairfield, Conn.t, Lt. David Barenholtz and his wife, Claire, of Honolulu, Hawaii, and Jonathan Thomas of Mt Vernon; and one great-grand-daughter, Kori Thomas. He was also survived by his younger brother, Phil J. Van Winkle and his wife, Nancy, of Orlando, Fla., and their children, Philip R. Van Winkle, James Michael Van Winkle and Sherry Allen. Ted, or Teddy as grandma and his old friends called him, was born on July 4, 1925, at the McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls, S.D., the first child of James Herschel Van Winkle and Gladys Lydia (Brown) Van Winkle. He first attended Jennings School and later Big Hill School in Mayberry Township, Hamilton County. Ted and his brother Phil both graduated from Norris City High School in May 1944. Ted attended Southern Illinois University from the fall of 1944 to 1946. He was inducted into the United States Army in January 1946, and assigned to the Army Counter Intelligence Corps at Fort Belvoir, Baltimore, Md., where he learned Japanese, techniques in interrogation and investigation, and was promoted to the rank of Staff Sargent. As part of the Counter Intelligence Corps 441st Detachment, he served in Tokyo and other parts of Japan from March 1947 to March 1948, where he conducted U.S. Army investigations of sabotage, sedition, espionage and subversive activities in Japan. Ted enlisted in the Army Reserves in March 1948, and then re-enrolled in SIU earning a bachelor of science degree in geography. Ted was called back to active duty with the Army in October 1950, serving during the Korean conflict with the Counter Intelligence Corps in Washington D.C., until August 1951. Upon his discharge from active duty, he remained in the U.S. Army Reserves until October 1954. Following his August 1951 discharge from the Army Intelligence Corps, he returned to Hamilton County, enrolling in college credit course offered by SIU in McLeansboro, where he met the love of his life, Betty Gail Summers. Ted married Betty Gail Summers on Dec. 29, 1951, at the First Baptist Church in McLeansboro. Upon completion of his degree from SIU, he attended Northwestern University, receiving a master’s degree in geography. Ted and Betty then moved to Washington D.C., where he began work for the United States Air Force and the Aeronautical Chart and Information Center. Working for ACIC, he was trained in aerial photography analysis, target selection and bomb damage assessment. He later analyzed classified photos including those of Russia taken by the U2 program. While working Aeronautical Chart and Information Service, he enrolled in the George Washington University National Law School, buying his first law book, Black’s Law Dictionary, the day Cynthia was born in December 1952. In 1954, he was transferred to the ACIC center at St Louis, settling his wife, daughter and son in Belleville. They were soon joined by Theodora. While still working full time for the ACIC, and with a wife and three young children, Ted completed law school at St. Louis University night division in June 1958, and was admitted to the practice of law on Nov. 20, 1958. After finishing law school, Ted moved the family to McLeansboro. Ted joined the late Hon. Charles E. Jones in the practice of law in 1958, creating the firm of Jones & Van Winkle, which operated until Charles Jones was elected circuit judge. Ted was engaged in a private law practice in McLeansboro from 1959 until his official retirement on Dec. 31, 2015. He served as the Hamilton County State’s Attorney from 1960 to 1964. Ted always kept a statute on his desk indicating his willingness to sue the ba#$$%ds, invoking his strong sense of right and wrong, and belief that everyone who had been wronged deserved justice. Ted was joined in the law practice by his son in November 1979, forming the firm of Van Winkle & Van Winkle. After his love for Betty, his children and grandchildren, Ted enjoyed his Broughton farm and his boats, including the Frolickin’ Farmer and the Riverwalker. From 1960 until August 1978, he raised polled Hereford cattle. In December 1969, he purchased a young Santa Gertrudis bull from the Nelson Rockefeller Cattle Ranch in Florida, hauling the bull home in a U-Haul trailer, and then keeping it in a barn until the spring. The Hereford-Santa Gertrudis mix was his idea, and effective, to combat the Hereford’s tendencies for pink-eye. In 1968, he added the grain farm at Broughton, which at the time was in poor condition. Through years of work, ditching, building levies and drains, Ted made the Broughton farm one of the counties best pieces of land. Ted was an excellent “windshield” farmer, stopping by at the farm, going to or from court, in his burgundy Lincoln, flying across the field to lay out orders and directives, and then as quickly disappearing back to the office or court. The hard winters of 1977-78 convinced him to cease actively operating the cattle and grain farm, resulting in a sale of his cattle and machinery in August 1978. Ted returned to actively farming, including driving the tractors, in the late 1980s. Ted and Betty also enjoyed traveling the United States, visiting national parks and monuments, presidential libraries, and historical museums. After 1979, they traveled extensively, including trips to England, Morocco, Italy and Greece. They took extended trips in the Riverwalker, along with Phil and Nancy, piloting the Riverwalker from Chesapeake Bay, down the intercostal waterway, across Florida, to Mobile Bay and up the Tombigbee waterway, Pickwick Lake, all the way to Kentucky Lake. The Riverwalker took them on long trips down the Cumberland, Green, Ohio and Kentucky rivers. Ted will be greatly missed by family and friends. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, or the McCoy Memorial Library, in care of the funeral home. Visitation was held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 12. Funeral services were 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 13. Harre Funeral Home, McLeansboro, is in charge of the arrangements.
Published on  February 17, 2016
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