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Bill Winters

Bill was born at home in Nevada, MO on Oct. 27, 1923.  Bill or Billy (as his family often referred to him) was the first-born son to Paul and Zelma (Rider) Winters.  The family then moved several times in Bill’s life residing in Metz, Rich Hill, and then in Raytown, MO. Bill was a fantastic athlete from a very young age.  As a thirteen-year-old freshman, he beat out a junior to start quarterback.   As a fourteen-year-old freshman, he beat out the senior pitcher on the baseball team.  Bill started and lettered all four years in Football, Baseball and Track. Bill graduated from Raytown High School in 1941.  Upon graduating, Bill was awarded a Full Ride Scholarship for Football to Northwest Missouri State Teachers College located in Maryville, Missouri.

The summer before college, Bill (a seventeen-year-old) tried out and made the roster of the St. Louis Cardinals minor league baseball team.  He played pitcher/1st base. After a summer of baseball, Bill packed up and headed to NW Missouri State in the fall 1941. Although Bill may have been a better baseball player, he opted to play football in college, Bill claims that it was more fun.  Bill played for nearly two seasons.  The positions that he played in college were Right Halfback and Left Cornerback. The team earned the title of Conference Co-Champs Bill’s freshmen year.  Bill’s sophomore year the team won the conference again.

Bill enlisted in the Navy Jan. 14, 1943.  Bill said once, “Join the Navy and see the world, thousands of dollars wouldn’t pay for all the places I’ve been.”  Bill was assigned to the #48 USS Dobler, a brand-new ship whose purpose was to be a Destroyer Escort. Bill traveled across and back over the Atlantic Ocean twenty times.  Bill’s job was on a deck gun, he was the 1st loader.  There were four shells at a time, the job required a tall person, and Bill stood at 6ft 1 and a half.  Bill finished his service with the title, Boatman’s Mate 1st Class. When the war ended with Germany, Bill still had four years left to serve.

Bill was then sent to US Navy Camp 815 located in Terceira, Azores, a Providence of Portugal.  Bill and four others were to replace eighty sailors that had been running the docks.  Bill was in charge of it all, the four other sailors and the Portuguese hired to help. It was here that Bill met his bride, Maria Gorgita through her dad who was a Port Captain. During their courtship, they would sight see and go to the beach a lot.  They would often be found spending a whole day tooling a cabin boat around the island.

The base was shut down in December of 1946, but, because Bill still had two years left to serve, he was to fly to Exeter, England, to get new orders. This became a very long adventure where Bill saw a lot of Europe.  During this time, word came around that the Navy would let you out on request if you served four of a six-year contract.  Bill was discharged in February of 1947.

Bill and Maria returned to KC and had a courthouse wedding June 12, 1947. Bill and Maria had five children which they resided with in the Kansas City, Hickman Mills and Grandview areas. After returning from the service, Bill worked as a Union Commercial Carpenter at the Sugar Creek Oil Refinery.  Bill also did carpentry work with his father on and off. Next, Bill worked doing light commercial construction as a superintendent.  While employed there he put footings in for the Western Auto sign downtown. Bill eventually gave up commercial construction and decided to go into residential housing.  Bill worked in this capacity for forty years as a superintendent building houses.  Finally working for his son, Bill Jr. for two years before retiring in 1990.

Maria suffered from poor health the majority of her life in the US.  She lived to celebrate their 56th wedding anniversary and then died in Sept. of 2003. After Maria’s death, Bill busied himself at Bill Jr’s farm, where Bill cared for the cattle, helped with the haying and did farm maintenance.  Bill loved listening/watching baseball and football. He was a sports nut and a KC fan to the core. He liked to travel, always the driver. In his later years, he spent time reconnecting with family and researching his roots. Bill loved his family, he traveled countless miles to visit with many of them.

Bill passed away February 21, 2022.

Scholarships associated with Bill Winters
  • Bill Winters Scholarship