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Inez Winton


1921 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
Inez Winton Obituary
Inez Neill Winton
1921-2018
Inez Neill Winton, born in Lamesa, Texas on March 27, 1921, left us on September 23, 2018 to rejoin her husband who predeceased her 39 years earlier. Inez grew up on ranches in Ballard, Texas and Portales, New Mexico. She graduated from West Texas State College at Canyon, Texas at the age of 18 and immediately began teaching school in Portales. In early 1942, when American's of Japanese ancestry were taken from their homes and relocated to internment camps, Inez went to the camp at Amache, Colorado to teach the children and open a library. She still received Christmas cards from several of the children she taught well into the 1960s including two who fought in the 442nd Infantry Regiment Brigade, the famed "Nisei Brigade". She held strong opinions about the indiscriminate cruelty of our government to Americans of Japanese ancestry the rest of her life.
In October 1942, Inez read that the United States Navy was accepting women to be commissioned as officers in the Navy. Inez signed up and was sent to Smith College in Northampton, Mass, for Officer Candidate School where she was commissioned as an Ensign in the United States Navy, among the first women ever commissioned as line officers in the Navy. Her first assignment was to Western Sea Frontier, San Diego, where she ran watch sections conducting coastal defense patrols and search and rescue operations, particularly for young Navy flight school candidates who were being rushed through flight school so they could quickly join the war effort. It was not uncommon for those young aviators to get lost in the fog along the Pacific Coast and run out of fuel, requiring the services of Western Sea Frontier. Lieutenant, junior grade, Neill trained as a Navigator on Naval Air Transport Service flights and got the opportunity to serve as such on a flight from San Diego to Guam with a refueling stop in Hawaii. Upon landing on Guam, she was ordered to report to and remain in the control tower until the plane was ready to return to San Diego because the base commanding officer had declared that "No [colorful language omitted] woman was going to set foot on his base." LTJG Neill returned to San Diego with the aircraft, disappointed with her treatment and the loss of opportunity to see Guam. Late in the war, she was transferred to Hawaiian Sea Frontier, based at Naval Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. There, on her first day at her new duty station, she met the senior watch officer assigned to the same command—Lieutenant James C. Winton, USNR. Upon returning to the continental United States after the war, the two married and remained inseparable the rest of their lives—and beyond. Lieutenant Inez Winton was forced to surrender her commission following the adoption of her only child in 1952. However, that son proudly wore his mother's collar rank insignia when in Tropical Khakis or Winter Blue uniforms and his dad's Service Dress Blue Uniform, with his dad's line officer insignia swapped for that of a member of the Navy Judge Advocate General's Corps.
After the war, Inez obtained a Master of Library Science degree from the University of Southern California. In 1957, she returned to the work force as the librarian at Pacoima Junior High School in the Los Angeles Unified School District where she taught until 1978 when she resigned to care for her husband who had been diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Upon her retirement, the school library was named for her to honor her 24 years of service to the school and, most importantly, its students. Her husband Jim often called her "Crusader Rabbit" because she always had a cause to pursue. As President of the Los Angeles School Librarians Association, she took on an attempt to close school libraries because such would have deprived students of the opportunity to learn research and reading skills—both considered precious by Inez. The Librarians won their suit and future students continued to learn to read and conduct research under Inez' guiding hand.
Inez' husband passed away in June 1979, shortly after which her first grandchild was born, allowing her to transfer her energy and teaching skills to another generation. When her son moved his family (including her grandchildren) to Houston in 1988, Grandma followed. Ten years later her love of children made it easy for her to accept into her family step-children and step-grandchildren as her own.
Inez was preceded in death by her parents, T. Gaines Neill and Ida Leona Jumper Neill; her husband, Lieutenant James C. Winton, USNR (ret.), and her brother Jack Neill and wife Nancy Neill. She is survived by her son, James C. Winton, (formerly Lieutenant Commander, Judge Advocate General's Corps, United States Naval Reserve) and wife Cynthia Brooks Winton; grandsons J.J. Christopher Brooks (a former Sergeant in the 10th Mountain Division) and wife Molly, Matthew J. Winton, (a former Sergeant in the Second Infantry Division) and wife Mandy, Christopher E. Winton and wife Genevieve, W. Webb Brooks and fiancé Jessica Taylor. Inez also leaves nine great-grandchildren, Hailey Shaw, Connor Shaw, Avery Winton, Abigail Winton, Andrew Ledwell, Braden Shaw, Josiah C. Winton, Charlotte Brooks and Morgan Winton as well as nephew Robert G. Neill and niece Sharon Neill Gow.
The family would like to thank the caregivers at Tranquility Care Home and The Village of the Heights for their devoted care of Inez. A memorial service will be held at 11 am on Saturday, September 29, 2018 in the Chapel of St. Paul's United Methodist Church, 5501 Main Street, Houston, Texas 77004. Reception will follow in Fondren Hall. In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to the St. Labre Indian School, 1000 Tongue River Rd., Ashland, MT 59003 or www.stlabre.org; or to Volunteers of America Adoption, 4152 Canal Street, New Orleans, LA 70119 or www.voasela.org.
Published in Houston Chronicle on Sept. 26, 2018
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