Remembering Dr. Winter on his birthday - December 8

An interview with Barbara Winter

By Brian Lowther

Ralph and Barbara Winter at the Ribbon-cutting ceremony officially opening the Ralph D. Winter Library at Olivet University in San Francisco. Used with Permisson.

Ralph and Barbara Winter at the Ribbon-cutting ceremony officially opening the Ralph D. Winter Library at Olivet University in San Francisco. Used with Permisson.

In honor of Dr. Winter’s birthday today, (he would have been 88), and as a way to keep his memory alive, I interviewed his widow Barbara Winter. Barbara and her first husband, Dr. George Scotchmer, who died in 1993, knew and supported the Winters for many years prior to Roberta’s death in 2001. Barbara married Dr. Winter in July of 2002 and remained his constant companion through the last seven years of his life. She brought him much joy and facilitated his continuing ministry, helping him to remain highly productive even as his health declined. Barbara carries on his legacy today as a member of the Frontier Ventures, the chair of the Roberta Winter Institute’s Advisory Board, and by archiving over 800 boxes of his personal files.

Brian Lowther: Name three books that influenced Dr. Winter’s RWI thinking.

Barbara Winter:

  1. Greg Boyd’s God at War, The Bible and Spiritual Conflict. Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 1997
  2. Lesslie Newbigin’s Foolishness to the Greeks: The gospel and western culture. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986
  3. Edwin Lewis’ The Creator and the Adversary. New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury, 1948.

Brian Lowther: What was the hardest thing Dr. Winter had to give up for health reasons?

Barbara Winter: Working more hours per day. He had to rest a couple hours every afternoon; also speaking more frequently. Before we were married (2002) he had given up soccer following his stroke. Later on he gave up distance walking due to weakness from Lyme disease and multiple myeloma.

Brian Lowther: Which of his qualities did you appreciate most?  

Barbara Winter:  His solid faith that began in his youth and endured his entire life. He continued to gain new insights from the Bible until the end; his loving commitment to me as his wife and to the rest of his family; his steadiness in the face of pressures; his sense of humor.

Getting folks on board to work at actually eradicating disease, a major work of Satan, thereby enhancing God’s reputation; not just treating disease with more medications.

Brian Lowther: Name one thing the Roberta Winter Institute could do that would have made Dr. Winter intensely proud.

Barbara Winter: Getting folks on board to work at actually eradicating disease, a major work of Satan, thereby enhancing God’s reputation; not just treating disease with more medications.

Brian Lowther: Did Dr. Winter ever grow out a full beard?

Barbara Winter:  No, he didn’t even like to have a day’s growth so he shaved even on Saturdays and holidays. He liked modest sideburns, but that’s all.

Brian Lowther: Name a theological idea that Dr. Winter continued to defend until his dying day.

Barbara Winter: Satan is and has been alive and active since before Genesis 1; also the absolute authority and truth of the Bible, God’s word.

Brian Lowther: Describe Dr. Winter’s interest level in sporting events. 

Barbara Winter: Very limited since he said that either one team would win or the other!! He enjoyed playing soccer for 30 minutes a day simply for exercise purposes. When in Guatemala he enjoyed watching a neighborhood soccer game occasionally. Watching games on TV he considered a waste of precious time.

Brian Lowther: Is there a skill Dr. Winter wished he had?

Barbara Winter: Being able to sing later in life. As a young man he was forced to sing tenor, which ruined his vocal chords. Other skills he would teach himself if he needed to such as carpentry, electronics, photography, computer programming.

Brian Lowther: What was Dr. Winter’s favorite food?

Barbara Winter: Tamale pie, apple pie; also split pea soup and sardines; root beer float whenever he could get one!

Brian Lowther: What impact did he want to leave on the world?

Barbara Winter: Getting the gospel to all the peoples of the world, not just more missionaries where there were already some serving, do what others either can’t or won’t do.

Brian Lowther: Did he have any quirks?

Barbara Winter: He liked to redesign filing and accounting systems, always finding a better way to do something. We had many clocks because he wanted to be able to see one no matter where he was sitting in our house. He wouldn’t wear shoes or neckties that he had to tie because both were a waste of time. He chewed on his pencil or his right thumbnail when deep in thought. He didn’t like to arrive early at a dinner or meeting because he didn’t like small talk. He loved fixing things with his hot glue gun and also taking time-delayed photos so he could run and get in the picture.

Brian Lowther: How would he finish this sentence?: Life is too short to tolerate ________.

Barbara Winter:  Chit chat; computer games, puzzles, TV (except for “60 minutes” which he determined from the opening summaries whether he would watch or not), inefficiency. 

Posted on December 8, 2012 and filed under Blog, Second 30.