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Saturday, January 13, 2024
1:00 - 2:00 pm (Central time)
Leslie W. Winters passed away on January 4, 2024 at his home in Inver Grove Heights, MN. He was 85. Les’s last few days were filled with loving family, and excellent caregivers from Timber Hills memory care and Health Partners hospice. Les was born in 1938 on a farm in rural Wisconsin. After graduating high school in Wisconsin Rapids, he enlisted in the Navy (at age 17!) where he served on an aircraft carrier and learned electronics. He applied these skills to a career as a computer engineer for Univac/Unisys working on the moon landing for NASA. In 1988, Les changed careers, first volunteering full-time with Habitat for Humanity and serving as an ESL teacher, then building housing for refugees in Nicaragua, and then moving to the US-Mexican border with his wife for ministry there. Les completed a B.A. from Metro State University (1993), and a M.Div. from University of Dubuque Seminary (1998). Beginning in 1996, Les became a Presbyterian minister serving rural churches in Tracy, Currie, and Westbrook, MN, and then churches in Reading and Wilmont, MN. He retired in 2007, and lived in Stillwater until 2023, when he and his wife moved to Inver Grove Heights to get increased support for his health needs.
Besides his faith, the theme of the last half of Les’s life was the love story he shared with Catherine. Together, they went on many adventures travelling to Israel, Egypt, Turkey, Europe, Central America, Canada, and Mexico. They undertook Spanish Immersion while living in the home of a Mexican family in Cuernavaca, before starting their work for the Presbyterian church in Agua Prieta Mexico/Douglas Arizona. They loved wine country and paired it with visits to family in California, Oregon, and Washington state. They had many memorable moments camping in Minnesota and Wisconsin with children and grandchildren with their little pop-up camper or at the cabin of their long-time friends, the Koski family. They loved their church life in rural Minnesota and were especially enriched by working with the youth group, taking them on many retreats and service projects (on one such memorable trip, they narrowly escaped a tornado with the youth group). In retirement, they annually spent a winter month visiting their friend Reza in Galveston, Texas. Finally, the were extremely devoted to their family spread out through the Twin Cities as well as their extended family in other places. They enjoyed their visits to New York City to visit daughter Jennifer and the Quad Cities to visit sisters-in-law Dori and Helen.
Les’s hearing was damaged by his work on aircraft carriers. Thus, he struggled in large group settings, and preferred quiet interactions with family and friends. He loved fixing things, lawn work with the Gerrard’s dog Bella, fishing with the grandkids, watching sports with Dede, and the annual grandkids New Year’s Eve party.
Within the last 6 years, Les’s health deteriorated following a severe heart attack and a bout with shingles. He experienced increasing dementia, but still enjoyed his quiet evenings watching PBS mysteries or sports with Catherine and their dog, Lily. Although his appetite and energy were low in his final year, he always was able to eat dessert and thoroughly enjoyed the miracle that is ice cream, pie, cakes, and chocolates.
Les is survived by his loving wife of 43 years, Catherine, his brothers Jon and Ron, his children, John (Paula) and Jennifer Winters. His step-children, Julie (Dan), Steve (Amanda), and Dede Decker, and Michelle Gerrard. His grand-children, Mark and Alex Winters, Maddie (Sean) and Amelia Gerrard, Shannon Bicott (Olivia), and Catalina Decker. His daughter-in-law Diane Dison, step-grandchildren Chris Betzold, Michael Sobolik, Sam Huber, and Aiden Walm, ex-wife Tomi Winters, and a great grandchild. He is preceded in death by his parents, Loretta and Leslie, his sister Jeannette, and his sons Ronnie and Les. Donations in Les’s memory can be sent to Habitat for Humanity Twin Cities or Presbyterian Homes.
A funeral service, led by the Rev. George Anne McDonnell, will be held Saturday, January 13, 2024 at 1:00p.m. at the chapel at Timber Hills, 6307 Burnham Cir, Inver Grove Heights, MN 55076. Following the service, the family invites you to some snacks and dessert to celebrate Les’s life.