William Michael Wininger, “Mike” to friends and family, was born October 3, 1946 in Fowler, California to William Minor and Evelyn (Foreman) Wininger. He has one sister, Sandra Lynn Doty.
Mike graduated from Amos Alonzo Stagg High School in Stockton, California in 1965. While still in high school, he studied college architecture and had a house built. Less than a year after graduation, Mike was drafted. Rather than going where the Army wanted him to go, he enlisted opting for the Nuclear Missile field, where he became a computer operator. He served his first overseas tour of duty in Korea. Then while stationed at Fort Cronkite, just outside of Sausalito, he met Terry Cox, the love of his life. They were married on March 1, 1969. That summer he was transferred to Zweibrucken, Germany, where their daughter Suzanne Marie (Suzie) was born December 17, 1969, on Terry’s 20th birthday. Most of Mike’s stateside tours were at Fort Bliss (El Paso), Texas. In 1972, he was transferred to Okinawa, Japan, where their son William Michael Wininger, Jr. (Billy) was born December 12, 1972. Mike’s next overseas tour took the family back to Germany, this time to Ludwigsburg, just outside of Stuttgart for 3 years. Upon returning to the states, and with another transfer looming, Mike decided to leave the military in 1978, after 12 years of service.
The family moved to Sharon Springs, KS where Terry’s grandparents Wilbur and Addie Cox, step-mother Virginia (and husband Everett) Linton, and two brothers Gary and James Cox lived. Mike went to Northwest Kansas Area Vo-Tec in Goodland for a year, studying auto mechanics while working part time for Cowles Ford in Sharon Springs. After finishing school, Mike had second thoughts about leaving the military, and so he re-enlisted in 1979. He was immediately sent back to Germany, this time Germersheim. After completing that 3 year tour the family moved back to El Paso for the final time.
While planning for retirement, and Suzie’s graduation, 14 year old Billy was stricken with a brain aneurysm and passed away on May 18, 1987. Since the family had planned to move to Connecticut, where Terry was originally from, Billy was buried there. Mike reluctantly stood his retirement ceremony on May 31st, and Suzie graduated June 6th. The next day, they left for Connecticut.
After a couple of years of various mechanical positions, Mike went back to school for Truck Driving. With his certificate in hand, he and Terry moved to Phoenix, AZ, where he got his CDL and drove truck for a while. He quickly tired of being on the road all the time, so he changed to bus driving locally. He eventually went to work for “VIA Adventures” where he drove tour buses locally and for “Tauck Tours” throughout the Southwest.
While in Phoenix, Mike got involved with Remote Control Airplanes. It was a hobby that he enjoyed most and stuck with the longest. It was the next best thing to actually flying. He’d taken flight lessons in Germany, and again in Connecticut, but never got his pilot’s license.
Mike was a military dog handler while in Korea, and never lost his love of dogs. Over the years he had four Brittany Spaniels with “Lady Millennium of Sky Lodge”, Millie for short, being his favorite. His dream car was a 1969 Chevrolet Chevelle, 396, in candy apple orange with white racing stripes. He loved bright colors.
During his 2nd tour in Germany, he took hang gliding lessons, with his graduation flight in the Alps. His hang glider was red striped with all the primary colors. He was always a bit of a thrill seeker from flying and motorcycles, to drag racing his Chevy Nova. His love for fishing came from his father. He and Terry enjoyed bowling together in leagues and tournaments for the majority of their marriage. His proudest bowling achievement was converting the 7-10 split. Mike and Terry always enjoyed vacationing in Kansas on her brother’s farm, usually over Thanksgiving with lots of good food, family and pheasant hunting.
In 2015, after battling Valley Fever for a few years, he convinced Terry to retire and move out of the southwest. They relocated in Depoe Bay, a small resort town on the Oregon coast. His Valley Fever symptoms cleared up dramatically, and he did well for about a year. Right after moving to Oregon, he purchased an ocean going boat with all the crab and fishing gear. He really enjoyed spending time on the boat with family. In January 2019, he collapsed with lung problems. Four months later, he was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF), an incurable unexplainable lung disease. Initial prognosis was maybe 5-10 years to live, but after only 2 years, it was revised to 6 months to 2 years.
Mike passed away in his sleep on October 1st, 2 days short of his 73rd birthday. There is no more pain and suffering. He is survived by his wife Terry of 50 years; his daughter Suzanne, her two children Ty and Nicole Zubrod; Suzanne’s 2nd husband James Mocek and his three sons, Jeremy, Zachary and Anthony; his sister Sandra Doty and her two boys, Jacob and Aaron. He is predeceased by his parents, his son William Jr., and brothers-in-law Gary Cox and David Doty.
Mike, you are in our hearts “Always and Forever”….
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and may be left at the services or mailed to Koons-Russell Funeral Home, 211 N. Main Ave., Goodland KS 67735