I had to write the column quickly and without the benefit of speaking directly to Mike’s parents, Bob and Ann. I also wrote not knowing whether anyone much would remember the Winkler family since they had last lived in Trigg County around 35 years ago.
Well, let me tell you something about Trigg County. I have relearned something I already knew, if that makes any sense. People who pass through Trigg County form bonds so strong that they last a lifetime. So many people have contacted me asking about the Winklers that it warranted a second and more informed column. So here we go.
I must preface this column by saying that it is written without the prior of approval of the late Mike Winkler. By all accounts, Mike was the most humble of men. He accomplished much in his life but never sought recognition for it. He did not seek the limelight.
Mike would probably not be overjoyed to see his good deeds noted in print. His life, however, was worthy of recognition for the service he gave to humanity, most of all the Cherokee Indian nation. Hang on as I catch you up with where the Winkler family spent the last three and a half decades. Then next week, I will tell you what Mike did with his life. It is quite the story.
Bob and Ann Winkler moved to Trigg County in 1968. They came here from Chillicothe, Ohio. Chillicothe is an Indian name meaning Peaceful Valley. How prophetic that would turn out to be. Bob remembers making the drive to Kentucky when they first moved here.
“I will never forget that there was 12 inches of snow on the ground in parts of Kentucky when we were driving down here.” Bob moved here to be an engineer for the Hoover Universal plant. The Winkler family spent eight years in Cadiz. While here, Bob and Ann built, opened up and ran Wink’s Shake Shop. Wink’s was a popular dairy dip at the intersections of Highway 274 and the Old Dover Road. Wink’s was the food of choice for Little League baseball teams after a big win at the ball park across the street. After a few years of running Wink’s, Bob sold the business to Chet and Martha Maxfield and it became M and M’s.
The Winklers left Cadiz in 1975 as Bob took a job building a factory in Barcelona, Spain. After a couple of years there, Bob and Ann fulfilled a promise to Mike to bring him back to Trigg County to graduate from high school with his friends. Mike graduated from Trigg County High School in 1978 (with this column’s author). Later, I will fill you in with much more about Mike Winkler. For now back to the family.
After their second stint in Trigg County, Bob and Ann moved to Athens, Tenn. Bob was in charge of building a factory to supply seats for Ford trucks. He was there until 1980. The Winklers then moved to Tulsa, Okla. It was while based there that Bob began traveling around the world supervising the building of factories that would produce huge trucks that served as earth-moving vehicles.
The trucks had tires that were over 11 feet in diameter. The tires alone stood higher than a basketball goal. The trucks were designed to haul up to 200 tons of material from open pit mines. Bob would routinely take trips around the world for 32 days at a time checking on these factories. His stops included sites in Australia, South Africa and even the Communist country of Yugoslavia. After years of working and traveling around the world supervising the factories he had built to produce the so called monster trucks, Bob took a job with Duracell.
With Duracell, Bob built factories in Sao Paula, Brazil and Australia. At age 55, Bob retired and worked part time as a consultant. On a personal note, Bob and his wife Ann have been married for 55 years now. They currently reside in Loganville, Ga., which is 30 miles east of Atlanta.
Reflecting on his time in Cadiz, the 78-year old Bob Winkler said “Cadiz and Trigg County was a great place to raise our children. It was small but ideal. I am so thankful that our kids had a chance to grow up there. Ann and I have so many fond memories of our time there. We remember many of our friends from that era.”
Next week I will conclude my series on the Winklers by sharing with you the tremendous service my old fellow graduate Mike provide to the Cherokee Indian Nation.
OT: The first plane I ever sat in was Bob Winkler’s as he taxied up and down the John Woodruff airstrip.
OTT: Bob and Ann remained close friends with the Billy Allen family for years as both families lived in the Atlanta area.
Enthusiasm Makes the Difference
Mike Wright is the head coach of boys basketball and cross country at Trigg County High School. Emails concerning Coach’s Corner can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.