LAKEWOOD – John passed surrounded by his family on Saturday July 19, 2014 at the Lakewood Continuing Care Center where he had been a resident for the past six years. Born in Englewood, NJ on July 23, 1919, son of Cora Senner and John W. Winkin, Sr., John lived his early life in New Jersey until going to college at Duke University in Durham, N.C.
At Duke John was a three-sport athlete and played baseball under the legendary “Colby Jack” Coombs, graduating in the spring of 1941. After graduation John enlisted in the US Navy, became an officer and served with distinction, becoming a lieutenant commander and served in the Pacific for four and one half years. John’s ship was delayed on December 6 heading into Pearl Harbor and was fortunate to miss the major part of the attack on December 7. After the war John returned to New Jersey, tried his hand at sports writing and was part of the startup of SPORT Magazine. In addition he worked at the media side and became a pioneer in television sports as a pre-game Yankee analyst along with Mel Allen and Curt Gowdy. John also completed his Masters and doctoral studies at Columbia University in New York City.
In 1949 he became a teacher-coach at the high school level and worked with baseball at all levels. John’s successes and the influence of “Colby Jack ” John secured the position as baseball coach at Colby College. In the next two decades Colby would become a power in New England baseball, John would coach almost every sport and rose to the position of Professor of Physical Education and Director of Athletics. At Colby John met and married Christine Woodbury, grew a family with children, David and Mary and became a leader in local sports. John developed and coached Little League through American Legion and raised the quality of baseball in the area and throughout Maine.
In 1974 The University of Maine brought John to Orono as the head coach of baseball. John led an already successful program to new heights, becoming THE regional Division I baseball program in the East. Six trips to the College world Series in Omaha, finishing in the top three twice, a player list of all American and All Region selections created excitement about baseball all over the state. John moved to Husson College in 1996 and became head coach in 2003. As he finished his head coaching career, John had over 1,000 wins, a legacy of excellence and thousands of young people who benefitted from his teaching and influence. The John Winkin coaching tree has spread far and wide.
John is survived by his son, David and his daughter-in-law, Cheryl, their children, Bethany and Hope. His daughter, Mary Hines, her husband, George, and her children, Johnathan, and Christine Lamanteer, Matthew Annis, Gary Wentworth Jr., Arron Winkin, and Amber Hines.
Special thanks to the staff and administration at Lakewood for their caring and loving work for John. Their professionalism and commitment to John was what allowed him make the best of his situation. John’s granddaughter Christine was an important caregiver at Lakewood and their relationship was a joy for him. The family would like to thank all for John’s close friends that were a huge source of support to him after his stroke.
Visiting hours will be 5-8 p.m. Thursday, July 24, at Veilleux Funeral Home, 8 Elm St., Waterville, ME. There will be a celebration of life scheduled for August 17, at Colby College. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to the Alfond Youth Center’s After School Program, 126 North St., Waterville, ME, or the Maine Children’s Home for Little Wanderers, 93 Silver St., Waterville, ME. Services are under the care and direction of Veilleux Funeral Home, 8 Elm St., Waterville, ME. www.veilleuxfuneralhome.com