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Asheville - William Winkenwerder, 90, passed away peacefully on Thursday, February 5, 2013, at the Givens Health Center. He was born on October 5, 1922, in Oregon, Illinois, to the late Gilbert Winkenwerder and Lucille Maxon Winkenwerder. He was a resident of Asheville for more than 70 years.
Survivors include his daughter Carole Anderson and her husband, Timothy Anderson, of Tampa, FL., son William Winkenwerder Jr., MD and his wife, Pride, of Pittsburgh, PA., and son John Winkenwerder and his wife, Cindy of Asheville, NC. Also surviving are his sister Mary D. Wickes of Asheville, a nephew Richard G. Winkenwerder and his wife Maureen of Asheville, wife, Lisa Winkenwerder and son, Chase of Asheville, and six grandchildren and one great grandchild.
Bill and his family moved several times in his youth, including to Sioux Falls, SD., Sheboygan WI., Milwaukee, WI., and then to Waycross, GA., where in 1937 his father purchased the General Lee Motor Court and Restaurant. Bill graduated from Waycross High School in 1942. Immediately thereafter he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps, serving for more than three and one half years. In the service he attended Auburn University and Cannisius College, became a pilot for B-25 airplanes, and served as a flight instructor and patrol duty pilot along the Mexican border near Del Rio, Texas.
The Winkenwerder family moved to Asheville in 1942 when Bill's father took ownership of the Tour-O-Tel Court and Restaurant on Merrimon Avenue. In subsequent years the family built and owned the Town-O-Tel Court, the Mountaineer Court, and Wink's Drive-In, a popular place for young people, with its' own radio tower, in the late 1950's and early 1960's.
In 1963, Bill and his brother Jim opened Horne's Motor Lodge on Tunnel Road, which later became the Ramada Inn of Asheville. For many years it served as one the area's most popular destinations, hosting celebrities such as Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Johnny Unitas, Roman Gabriel, Richard Petty, Michael Jordan, Joe Frazier, Jerry Lee Lewis, Conway Twitty, Chubby Checker, and Milton Berle. During the inaugural season of the Atlanta Falcons Football Team, the entire team stayed at the hotel during a summer football camp.
For many years a significant number of Asheville youth found employment at one of Winkenwerder's hotels or restaurants learning the basics of business, earning a dollar, and serving people. Bill and his brother Jim took a particular interest in helping young people to grow and mature into productive citizens. Bill also served for many years as a mentor with the Big Brother youth mentoring program. Winkenwerder served as Vice President of the Asheville Chamber of Commerce Tourism and Conventions Bureau, and as a member of the Chamber Board of Directors. He was a former member of the Asheville City Club, the Biltmore Forest Country Club, the Country Club of Asheville, and The Rhododendron Royal Brigade of Guards.
Bill's greatest passion was for amateur golf, and during the 1950's and 1960's he was one of the area's finest golfers. He played in numerous top amateur events including the North-South Amateur, the Dixie Amateur, and the Ormond Beach Classic. He won several tournaments and was three times the champion at the Country Club of Asheville. He served as host to famed golfers Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, and Jack Nicklaus when they visited Asheville to play exhibition events. One famous foursome included Player, Billy Graham, noted WW II ace Robert Morgan and Winkenwerder. Bill once shot 79 from the pro tees at the famed Augusta National Golf Club, site of The Masters, and achieved the improbable of shooting 85 when he was 85 years old. He was active and engaged in life until the very end of his life.
Bill enjoyed life and good times with friends. One of his most enjoyable associations was being a member of the "Old Rocking Chair" group, part of the Biltmore Forest Country Club Invitational Tournament, and of attending the honorary dinner each year at the Jess Sweetser Invitational Golf Tournament. Known for being exceptionally generous and a man with a kind and big heart, Bill also enjoyed doing things spontaneously for people, giving gifts, buying others meals or drinks, and teaching young men about sports. In his later years, Bill enjoyed playing golf and spending Saturdays with Chase.
A memorial service will be held Thursday, February 7, 2013, at 11:00 am in the chapel of Groce Funeral Home at Lake Julian. The family will receive friends from 10:00 -11:00 am at the funeral home.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to CarePartners Hospice, PO Box 25338, Asheville, NC. 28813.
The memorial register is available at grocefuneralhome.com.
Groce Funeral Home at Lake Julian
1401 Patton Avenue
Asheville, NC 28806
Published in the Asheville Citizen-Times from Feb. 6 to Feb. 7, 2013