Boone, Watauga County Lose an Icon, After 60+ Years of Working at Boone Ford Dealership Bill Winkler Passes On

Published Tuesday, October 16, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Bill Winkler in 2010 – Photo by Jason Gilmer

By Jesse Wood

Oct. 16, 2012. Bill Winkler, a man who has been called an icon and a patriarch of Boone, recently passed away at the age of 83.

On Tuesday morning, Winkler’s body was found in Winklers Creek, which flows behind his house on Winklers Creek Road, where he was taking care of his animals before he died.

Well known among the High Country community for selling cars at Boone Ford Lincoln Mercury and working at the dealership, which changed hands numerous times, for more than a half century, Winkler has been the subject of numerous features in the local media throughout the years.

During a 2010 interview with High Country Press, current Boone Ford owner Alfred Glover said, “He’s a legacy to the past.” 

Winkler began working for his father’s dealership—Ralph Winkler Ford—after retiring from the Air Force on May 5, 1950, when the business was still downtown on Depot Street. He had worked at the dealership for so long that some of his clientele had passed away, though he continued to serve their children and grandchildren.

His first sell was a 1950 Ford F-100 pickup, which the dealership bought for $800, listed at $1,200 and Winkler sold it for $900. The deluxe truck had plenty of chrome, an AM radio and was considered top of the line for the time period. In those days, heaters were options for vehicles.

On Tuesday, Glover said it was understatement to say that Winkler would be “sorely missed.”

“It’s like realizing your co-pilot is no longer flying with you. Bill was such a man, just a such a wonderful asset to this dealership and to this community and to his family,” Glover said. “He will forever be missed and simply no way his shoes will ever be filled the guy worked.”

Photo by Jason Gilmer

Glover was audibly shaken on Tuesday when talking about Winkler’s passing and said it was humbling feeling to know and work with him.

“In my judgement, Bill had his priorities right. He loved the Lord, he loved his family and he loved what he did for a living,” Glover said. “He did it because he loved his family and serving this community and he did it very well.” 

When asked about Winkler’s personality or character  Glover said, “Regardless how well or not so well Bill was doing, when you asked him how we was doing, he’d say, ‘The best you’ve ever seen.'” 

At 83 years old, Winkler was in great shape and worked every day of the week, including this Monday.

In prior interviews, the thought of him working into his nineties just seemed like the way of life for Winkler.

“We didn’t get my dad retired until he was 90, so I just thought you’re supposed to work until you’re 90,” Winkler said in 2010. 

As long as he was in good health he asserted that he was going to continue working.

“I love dealing with people and I love automobiles,” he added. “I have a wonderful clientele and they’ve been really loyal, but, of course, I give them good deals.”

Funeral services for Mr. William Ralph “Bill” Winkler, Jr. will be conducted Thursday afternoon at 5 o’clock at the First Baptist Church. Officiating will be Rev. Roy Dobyns. The family will receive friends at the church immediately following for those attending, as well as those unable to attend, the service. Graveside services and burial will be private.

In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to the First Baptist Church, 375 West King Street, Boone, NC 28607 or to the Watauga Humane Society, PO Box 1835, Boone, NC 28607.

Obituary

Bill Winkler, D. Oct. 15-16, 2012
Mr. William Ralph “Bill” Winkler, Jr. age 83, of Winklers Creek Road, Boone, passed away at his residence. Born July 28, 1929 in Watauga County, he was a son of the late William Ralph and Effie Vance Winkler.

Bill was a member of the First Baptist Church in Boone and the founding member and sponsor of the Daniel Boone Fisherman Club. He was an US Air Force Veteran and a member of the American Legion. Bill was a car salesman for over 64 years and was currently working at Boone Ford Lincoln Mercury. He began his career in the automotive industry working at Winkler Motor Company. Bill loved his family, his work and his many friends in the community.

He is survived by his wife; Evelyn, his children; William Ralph Winkler, III and wife Rhonda of Boone, Melinda Cook and husband Sonny of Huntersville, Deborah Cole and husband Tyler of Asheboro, Daniel Winkler and Karen Shook of Blowing Rock, Amy Moore and husband Butch of Sugar Grove, and Holly Winkler and husband Glenn Hubbard of Greenville, NC, twelve grandchildren; Ashley W. Price, William Ralph Winkler, IV, Jessica W. Hall, Jeffrey S. Cook, Karen C. McVickers, Shana R. Harris, Jaimee R. Gibbs, Jonathan K. Cole, David J. Cole, A. Morgan Winkler, Jennifer S. Coffey, and Joshua M. Moore, seventeen great grandchildren; two sisters; Carolyn Congleton of Barbourville, KY, and Marbeth Fidler and husband Carl of Boone.

Funeral services for Mr. William Ralph “Bill” Winkler, Jr. will be conducted Thursday afternoon at 5 o’clock at the First Baptist Church. Officiating will be Rev. Roy Dobyns. The family will receive friends at the church immediately following for those attending, as well as those unable to attend, the service. Graveside services and burial will be private.

In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to the First Baptist Church, 375 West King Street, Boone, NC 28607 or to the Watauga Humane Society, PO Box 1835, Boone, NC 28607.

Online condolences may be expressed to the Winkler family at www.austinandbarnesfuneralhome.com.

Austin & Barnes Funeral Home & Crematory is serving the Winkler family.

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