Uncle Wade - Father, Husband, Fraternity Brother, Friend

Sparks Of Insanity By Vinny "Bond" Marini Wednesday, August 11, 2010

This is the last of three dedications which first ran in 2007.  This one is closest to my heart and soul. This will also be my last post of the week.  My back is still giving me some real troubles and using the laptop is not easy.

A correction from yesterday when I said I was still doing the show.  About 4:30pm I contacted both guests and they agreed to both come on September 13th.

Have a grand weekend all...be safe

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 )

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 become 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.

7 Of Your Sparks

  1. Travis Cody Says:
  2. He sounds like one hell of a guy.

    Here's to ya Uncle Wade.

     
  3. Anonymous Says:
  4. i first met wade during a "kidnap" ... as a young pledge for TKE i knocked on an apt door and a strange guy with long black hair opened it ... [this was Al - wade's friend who did bicycles] ... he played dumb, we persisted, then he laughed and let us in to retrieve our brother pledge dan monahan ... it was wades apartment.

    wade had a wonderful irish setter named Marley who also met me at the door ... just about went everywhere with him.

    wade & sue lived in Victor, ny for a spell. i think that was where the Wade Winter Band was formed. he played couch, rookie played spoons, susie did the pots, and al & i played guitar ... al played through a small amp called the "pignose" ... wade sent me a tape a few years later of all that "music" we played ... even one special reggae song we wrote ... he really like bob marley.


    when wade & susie moved up to ny for a brief stint as a reporter for rookie's dad's Whitehall Times; the Wade Winter Band was still playing music on their little farmhouse in the countryside, that's where jeremy was born ...

    once when i was attempting to get 'organized' in my music quest for fame & fortune, wade came up to visit me and we talked for about an hour or so. the next day he brought me printed labels he had made for my corkboard i used to try to make sense of my life. a simple thing yet made an impact on my life such that i look for ways to affect the lives of others in a similiar manner - without being asked, looking for just something i can do, and always offering encouragement ... that was wade.

    wade was indeed all over the place ... during a conversation with my mom once while i was working at Parkland Memorial Hospital; i mentioned wade and she said, "well he's in dallas !!!" ... i immediately located the hotel they were in and drove out to visit him & sue ...

    at home one day, my patio door opened up and in walks wade, sue, and steve ... all dressed up in real western wear ... cowboy boots and all ... it was hiliarious ... and the even brought there own beer! that was wade.

    later on, my wife and i & kids stayed at his house in grapevine while they took a much needed vacation ... he always provided the best he could for his family ... they had a beautiful home with a pool ... it was always a pleasure visiting them. i remember he had just bought an IBM PC and couldn't get it to do anything ... that was before the internet as we know it ... he hated computers ... that was wade.

    my wife & i drove to ny one summer. on the way back we stopped in ohio and visited wade and met ingrid and their family. Marley had passed on to doggie heaven years ago but he had a new puppy ... great big paws and he had just had his ears clipped so he had this funny bonnet on his head ... wade had serious health issues at that time and yet was still interested in my life and what i was doing. he told me he wasn't afraid of dying. was looking forward to seeing that great rock 'n roll band they have in heaven ... he finally got tired and we left after only a couple of hours.

    i remember wade as a great friend.

    vince brud frandino
    yibos

     
  5. Mike Golch Says:
  6. A person does not have to be famous to be remembered,they just have to make a difference in someone's life.
    That's my stand.

     
  7. TechnoBabe Says:
  8. Hope you feel better soon. This is a great post and so sorry to hear about Wade.

     
  9. Dianne Says:
  10. Mike's comment says it all

    Feel better Vinny, I know what a pain the pain is :)

    gentle hugs

     
  11. Mags Says:
  12. Hi Vinny-I just wanted to drop in and say hi...I've been a very bad blogger, yet again. But I'm not down for the count!!

    So, Hi! I hope you have a great weekend!

     
  13. Mimi Lenox Says:
  14. This is a wonderful tribute to your friend. Hope you are feeling better.

     

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