San Diego lost a legend Monday in Edward Joseph Winter. The 92-year-old retired captain in the U.S. Navy, who served in three wars including World War II, passed away with his wife of 70 years, Nancy, by his side.
“Capt. Ed” was born in Medicine Lake, Mont., on July 26, 1921, to Joseph and Sarah Winter, and was the fourth of six children. In 1939 while attending Carroll College in Helena, Mont., on a football scholarship, Winter received his pilot’s license. In May 1941 he joined the Naval Aviation cadet program and received his wings of gold.
Winter served more than 31 years and flew combat in three wars: World War II, Korea and Vietnam. He loved to fly and had his first combat experience flying F4F Wildcats off of the old USS Ranger (CV-4) in the invasion of Morocco in 1942. Between 1942 and 1945, he spent time in Casablanca, and then looked for German submarines off the coast of Brazil.
Winter eventually did tours of duty in several posts, including test project pilot in Bedford, Mass.; flight operations officer in Bermuda; and commander in Sanford, Fla. He was stationed in Norfolk, Va., and later served in the Pentagon. In 1965 he was assigned as chief of staff, Commander Fleet Wing Air Command, on Whidbey Island, Wash.
His final assignment, in 1970, was in San Diego, and then he and Nancy retired to Poway in 1972. Winter received numerous commendations and awards during his career, including his name on a plaque on the USS Midway, where he also spent time during his Navy career.
Winter flew more than 40 types of airplanes, and his love for them was easily apparent in his Poway home, which was decorated with model airplanes and photos from his time in the Navy. Winter was known to insist that visitors borrow his copy of "Flight of the Intruder," a 1991 movie where one of his last ships, USS Independence (CV-62), is in the spotlight. Winter was under no illusions as to the horror and price of war, observing to neighbors at the beginning of Iraq, “Why do more young men have to die? There has to be a better solution.”
Ed Winter met his wife, Nancy, in 1941 in Jacksonville, Fla., while training at the Pensacola Naval Air Station. They were married on Oct. 10, 1943, and spent their 70 years playing together, both on and off the golf course.
Winter will be dearly missed by Nancy and his four children: Donna (Liz) of Madison, Wis.; Edward (LuAnn) of University Place, Wash.; Terrie (Mick) Kavran of Kenmore, Wash.; and Michael (Carmen) of Poway, Calif. He was the proud grandfather to six grandchildren: Mick (Tina) Kavran; Kenny Kavran; Kelli (Jared) Lesse; Holly (Josh) Graff; Gretchen (Jeff) Nelson; Brian (Jenny) Winter and eight great-grandchildren, with two more on the way. He was a beloved uncle to his niece, Sara Jo (Tom) Grode, and nephew, Edward (LaVonne) McCumber of St. Paul, Minn. He had many dear friends and extended family.
Winter was preceded in death by his infant first son, Edward Joseph; his mother and father; sisters Frances, Edythe and Evelyn; and brothers Louis and Charles.
Winter was a charter member of the Association of Naval Aviators and a Keepers Club member of the Zoological Society of San Diego for 20 years. He was a member of the Stoneridge Golf and Country Club for more than 30 years, a member of the Disabled American Veterans and of the Tailhook Association.
Winter was an avid sportsman and traveled extensively with his wife. He was sharp-witted, a great conversationalist and host, and an excellent mechanic who helped friends and neighbors with their projects. He loved watching golf, soccer and football on TV and still found time to keep a sharp eye on the neighborhood, unhesitatingly calling the sheriff on illegal or suspicious activity. His absence in that regard is already being felt.
Winter cheered on many a team for his family, including San Diego’s own Chargers, Seattle’s Seahawks, the Washington State Cougars, Green Bay Packers and UW-Madison Badgers.
Winter was an expert on finances, cars and world events. He enjoyed music from the ‘40s and ‘50s, particularly Frank Sinatra. He was first and foremost a pillar of strength to his family, and taught his children to be self-sufficient and loving. He lived each day with gusto and guts and was truly an “old salt.”
Winter’s life will be celebrated on Monday at 10:30 a.m. at Miramar National Cemetery. The family would like to thank all who helped Winter during his illness, including all the staff at Remington, Mission Health and Elizabeth Hospice.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Elizabeth Hospice, 150 W. Crest St., Escondido, CA 92025.