Uncle Wade - Father, Husband, Fraternity Brother, Friend

Sparks Of Insanity By Vinny "Bond" Marini Tuesday, August 08, 2006

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Wade Winter
March 26, 1954
- August 7, 2004

Wade Winter was not famous like the other two men I am dedicating posts to over this 7 day period. Not famous in the same sense as Thurman or Jerry, but he was famous within the “world he inhabited.”

I met Wade Winter at Rochester Institute Of Technology sometime my sophomore year. I had begun to hang with some of the members of Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity and though I can’t remember the exact first time I met him, his personality just enveloped me.

Wade was living over in one of the apartment complexes on campus with his girlfriend Randi (Left) at the time, so he wasn't always around. But when he was, you knew it. His laugh was infectious, his love of life so evident.

Wade
and Randi married while still in school and that was the first wedding I ever attended.

Wade came to RIT to play football. RIT was a low division 3 school and 1972 was actually the last year they played football there. He grew up in Liverpool, NY – which I always thought was funny, because in some ways Wade was a Beatle. People flocked to him.

A lefty quarterback, he butted heads with his coach during his time on the team. The coach is someone many football fans know…Tom Coughlin, the current head coach of the NY Giants.
Wade also played lacrosse at RIT. This is Uncle Rookie, Uncle Shebs
and Uncle Wade back then.
(^ prowling the sidelines)
At RIT, football was not a big deal. What was a big deal was fraternity flag football. When the football program ended, Wade began playing football with our fraternity team. Now remember, he was a quarterback for the school team, but we had a guy from Buffalo, Mike, who was a real good signal caller and Wade became Mr. Everything. Running the ball, catching the ball, playing defense, kick returns…you name it and man he did it all well, winning the fraternity MVP for football.
(Wade with the ball - plowing for yards ^)

We partied hard in TKE…we were the “animal house”, the “jock house” (We went undefeated in flag football and won 2 years in a row...won basketball…won softball…OH and we threw the best parties around. Wade was involved and when he and Tom got engaged, we had the best bachelor party for them!

Wade and Randi eventually split and a few years later, he met Sue. Wade and Sue brought Jeremy and then Alan into the world. These two kids were the funniest and were always around whenever there was something going on. They both seemed to be born as teens.
(Sue Winter>)
Wade worked for Met Life and that meant they moved. Let me see – if I forget a town, someone will correct me. I believe they began in upstate NY...or maybe it was Rhode Island… At one point they were supposed to move to Long Island near me and they lived in a hotel for about a month while their home was being readied. Well as they were about to move in, he got transferred to Texas. Then it was Chicago, then upstate NY. Wade grew in the company, moving higher and higher, eventually having 100's of people reporting to him.

I remember getting a call from Wade at one point. Wade was in a Friday’s outside of Chicago and sitting at the bar eating, reading Rolling Stone. Wade called to tell me he saw a letter I had written to the pub. Wade was so excited by seeing a friend’s name in print. This was true Wade...always thrilled when his friend's accomplished something special. Funny thing is, on a business trip years later, I ended up at that same Friday’s and called him to tell him about that!

Over the years, because of circumstances beyond my control, I missed many of the parties that were held. It was something that always bothered me, but in life, things happen. But we would talk often. Missed were, the races in Saratoga, the ski trips, the trips to Buffalo Bills games..legendary gatherings and Wade was there and Uncle Rookie was there beside him They were ying and yang...the right hand and the left...bonded in the fraternity...but more so, bonded in life. (The Rookie & Wade at the races)

And there was fantasy baseball and football. Wade was commissioner of our baseball league for years. This
was before the Internet where the sites would do all the work and Wade would calculate all the stats by hand!

Across the country you would hear stories of “The Wade Winter Band”…he even ended up with a t-shirt he wore often…no real band, but people thought so.

The last big party I got to attend at Wade and Sue’s was a blast…Matt was about 6 or so I guess and he followed Jeremy
and Alan all around!

As things do... things changed and Wade ended up moving to Ohio for business – but went alone. He had met Ingrid and they eventually married.
(Left: Ingrid with Uncle Steve)

Ingrid
had a daughter and Wade became her dad…loving her as he loved life and his two sons.

Then the news… Wade was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. For me, it was the second slap, as Mom had been diagnosed just a few
months earlier. As I was able to follow mom’s treatment, I talked to Wade about his.

Wade never changed…his spirit was so high. Wade would want to talk about my mom and not him…how was she…how was I…but that was Wade.

He went into remission, as mom did and we all brea
thed a sigh of relief, but it was short-lived. The cancer came back and this time it was going to be a rougher ride. Still Wade remained Wade....always with the smile you see in the picture at the top on his face.

If I called, Wade would turn the subject to Matt and baseball…and we would end the call and I would realize Wade never answered the question “How are you feeling?”

Then we heard Wade would need a bone marrow transplant to try and cut this hideous disease off. I called my doctor and got the information to ma
ke an appointment to see if I could becme a donor. Wade went to Indianapolis to get ready…having to be isolated before they began to kill his cells off.

Then word came... they found a match…some woman who was in the system and willing to donate. There was the light again. But Wade's body could not cope. It certainly was not his
attitude or his will...they were huge fighters.

The call came August 7th…Wade had left us. I went a
nd sat by myself. I had lost a friend when I was in high school, and one when I was in my 20’s…but this was different. This was Wade.

This was a man whose love for life was extraordinary. Everyone was “Uncle” to Wade. Uncle Vinny, Uncle Andy, Uncle Dean, Uncle Shebs, Uncle Rook...etc etc... And he was ALWAYS UNCLE WADE. We were family. These men are my brothers - always will be and one of my brothers was gone now and it hurt so damn bad.

The calls began…across the country…word spread
ing. Flying was out of the question. The logistics were a nightmare. So, Uncle Andy, Uncle Dean, Uncle Tige, Uncle Tom and Uncle Vinny decided to rent an SUV and drive it. With five of us in the car it would be a snap.

We all met early…a Lexus SUV...big enough for the 5 of us. We hit the road…a 10-hour drive and arrived just as the wake was going to begin. The pl
ace was overflowing. Uncle Shebs was in from ChicagoUncle Stevie from N. CarolinaUncle Jay from RochesterUncle Rookie from Whitehall…and phone calls from the other brothers who could not make it…

So many people. It was strange...all these friends from Ohio, who treated the fraternity brothers like “royalty.”


We were the other members of THE WADE WINTER BAND and they wanted us to feel welcome.

We then headed to the local pub to celebrate Wade. Jeremy, Alan, his girlfriend and another friend from home were there. Of course Sue was with us…and Bill & Shirley (Left), Wade’s mom and step-dad (that said for clarification- Bill was Wade's dad…in every way). Bill is part of our football league...he is a blast…Shirley can keep up with all of us and is one of the funniest women I have ever met. I truly appreciate them both…we all do.

We got nuts in the bar... drinks flowed…and flowed and flowed…then- it was back to the hotel and the party continued in the room I was sharing with Tom. It went until who knows what time, but we were all moving slowly the next day for
the funeral.

Again, the place was packed…there were seats saved right up front…for the fraternity boys.
Then the eulogies began. The friends from Ohio talked about this guy moving in a few years before. He would be out in the street playing with the kids. The guy who would organize parties on the spur of the moment…the guy anyone could call on at a moments notice if they needed assistance.

Anywhere Wade lived, I think, his neighbors would have said the same words.

Uncle Andy got up and read a letter he had received. He had made some phone calls and gotten word to Tom Coughlin about Wade's passing. This man remembered his “left-handed” quarterback and their head-butting sessions like it had been 2 years ago, not the 32 years it had been. What a wonderful keepsake for his families to have.

Then, off to Wade and Ingrid’s home for some more tales of Winter and laughs…and soon enough – we were back in the car and heading back home.In Ohio after the funeral - The Uncles
Jay, Andy, Shebs, Steve, Tige, Tom, Rookie, Dean, Vinny

All in all, we spent 20 hours in the car and 10 hours in Ohio, but I would never have done it any differently and neither would the others. The year before, there was a party for Wade's 50th birthday and – once again- I was unable to go. This will haunt me forever…that I let certain circumstances keep me from being there and celebrating with my friend…my fraternity brother…my bandleader…Wade Winter.

I know he still looks down on us and I can hear his laugh...and right now he is saying,
“Uncle Vinny…shut up and lets have a cocktail.”

So, Uncle Wade… this one’s for you bud…race you to the bar.

Over the years, some facts have become cloudy...I invite all who loved Wade to leave a comment with your memories...or to correct mistakes above.

12 Of Your Sparks

  1. robsg1rl Says:
  2. Gosh, I don't even know the man, but I love him now. Bond, you are a great writer. I have tears in my eyes. I can feel the love you have for this man just by reading your words. Some people have real passion for life. I think your "brother" Wade was one of those men. :)

     
  3. Anonymous Says:
  4. You have been blessed with some truly great friendships, Vince. Words escape me, so I'll leave it at that.

     
  5. Angell Says:
  6. I'm in tears. A beautiful tribute. Not much more I can say without becoming incoherent.

    Sniff - sniff....

     
  7. Dixiechick Says:
  8. Vince, that was a wonderful tribute to a truly wonderful friend. "True Friends" are very hard to come by. To have a "True Friend" is a blessing. Thank you for introducing this "True Friend" of yours to us. I know that he will truly be missed by all.

    Lee Ann

     
  9. Turnberry Says:
  10. I only hope that someday I have the ability to honor the people that have touched my life as profoundly as you have here.

     
  11. zorak163 Says:
  12. I love the idea that you all went out to celebrate him and his life. Too often people stay completely buried within sorrow and don't do anything to remember the happy times.

     
  13. I loved this the first time I read this, and I love it even more now.

    Good choice for inclusion in the Carnival.

     
  14. Bond Says:
  15. ZORAK: Thanks for coming by and reading...

    SONGBIRD: Appreciate it.

     
  16. What a wonderful post. It evokes emotion and is a wonderful way to remember him. He obviously shaped your life and your heart.

    I'm sure he's very proud of you for all you've accomplished and for remembering him so well.

     
  17. Bond Says:
  18. JAMIESON: Thanks for coming by and for the nice words.

     
  19. I found this because I have been thinking of Wade today and googled his name. I worked with Wade ant Metlife in Dayton, Ohio. Wade is by far one of the best men I have every met. He was a wonferful and caring boss. He made every one of us feel like we were important. That's really hard to do when you have hundreds of employees, but he did. He would walk through the building while we were busy working and place his hand on our backs and just say hello. I remember one winter day we had a threat of a snow storm and daycares began to shut down. Wade told all the employees that were calling off to bring there children to work and he would watch them. He hade Wade's daycare that day in his office complete with crayons and coloring books. Wade gave great advice and shared great stories such as the Christmas gnome. We were all sad to lose such a great man. He never lost his great sense of humor or ability to make you feel better even when he himself didn't. His superman tshirt was a great last touch. RIP WADE Winers

     
  20. SLSMITH018: I am glad you found my tribute to my good friend. All who knew him echo your comments.

     

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