William Winter- Mississippi’s Better Angel

Gov. William Winter – 1923-2020

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Abraham Lincoln

‘One of the greatest Mississippians’: Former Gov. William Winter remembered by friends, dignitaries

I am a couple days late lamenting the loss of former Mississippi Governor William Winter. Governor Winter’s political life is a remarkable tale in and of itself, from being elected to the Legislature as a law student in 1948 to finally being elected Governor in 1979 after being defeated in an earlier bid. He was a moderate on race when being moderate was both politically and personally dangerous. The product of a one room schoolhouse in Grenada County, he changed public education in Mississippi by the sheer force of his will and determination. He was a public servant with few peers in our state.

I wish I had deep and meaningful stories about my personal relationship with him. But I do not. I do, however, have a couple nuggets about him. From the moment I introduced myself to him as a law student in 1997, Governor Winter remembered my name and always asked me about my father and Dana Moore. I chalked the inquiry up to a natural politician’s ability to connect a name with a story— In his mind, my story was tied to my relatives who were his contemporaries. But Governor Winter was different. After Dana’s death in 2007, I received a note from Gov. Winter expressing his condolences. When Dad passed away in 2016, another note from Governor Winter arrived a week or so after the funeral. It’s the little things that count, and I’m sure he would send hundreds, if not thousands, of similar notes every year. But there was no election in his future and our relationship did not hinge on my voting for him. Instead, he simply being a human being caring for his fellow man. Our world needs more of those men.

Godspeed, Governor Winter. Our state is better because of your bravery, your courage, your humility, and most importantly, your humanity. You were Mississippi at our finest. Thank you for being one of our better angels.

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