Gov. William Winter’s Death Cause is Under Investigation
Former Mississippi Gov. William Winter’s death cause is still under investigation as it hasn’t been clear yet. William, a Democrat who pushed to strengthen public education and develop race connections, has passed away at the age of 97.
The attorney, who was governor from 1980 to 1984, passed away Friday night at home in Jackson, family spokesman Dick Molpus announced Saturday. He is a former Mississippi secretary of state who had served on Winter’s gubernatorial staff.
As governor, William was best known for pushing Mississippi lawmakers to set the Education Reform Act of 1982, which set rules for mandatory school attendance.
He was also known for establishing free public kindergartens and introduced quality standards for schools and teachers in a state that had long fought because of the intertwined difficulties of poverty, racial strife, and poor academic performance.
Former Gov. served in the 1990s as co-chairman of a national commission on racial reconciliation set by President Bill Clinton, whose time as governor of Arkansas overlaid with Winter’s time as he governed Mississippi.
“I think the mixture of personal power and political openness, which he has explained all his life, is the key toward making this mad century we’re living in, with all of these moving parts, hold together and make some sense,” Clinton stated in a 2015 film, “The Toughest Job: William Winter’s Mississippi.”
The commission held many public forums across the United States, including the one that drew a large audience in 1998 at the University of Mississippi.
The next year, the Gov. Institute for Racial Reconciliation was established at the university, continuing the work of trying to help communities separated by conflict.
William Winter’s Death Cause Following State Commission
In 2000 and 2001, the Gov. led a state commission that suggested removing the Confederate battle standard from the flag that Mississippi had used since 1894.
Voters decided to keep the flag in a 2001 statewide election, refusing the commission’s statement that the Confederate symbol was a racist reminder of slavery and segregation.
William Winter’s death cause has not been confirmed yet. However, he is not the only one since Sam Jayne’s death cause, who was reported missing on Dec. 6, had not been confirmed.
Momentum changed in 2020 among nationwide protests over racial crime. Under pressure from business and religious organizations, including, notably, the Southeastern Conference and the Mississippi Baptist Convention, lawmakers retired the Confederate-themed flag.
They assigned a commission to design a new state flag without Corporate imagery and with the phrase, “In God We Trust.” Winter declared a statement saying he was fascinated to see the flag retired.
The Gov. congratulated administrators but urged them to do more to tackle the state’s economic and social concerns. “The fight for a better Mississippi does not end with the dismissal of the flag,” he stated.
Painting of Tiny Cabin in the Woods, Kincannon School
For years, Winter’s law office presented a painting of a tiny cabin in the woods, the Kincannon School in north Mississippi’s rural Grenada County.
The one-room schoolhouse was on land held by his parents, and it’s where the future governor got his first two years of education. After that, a bus went out from Grenada and began taking young Gov. and a few of the other nine white students into town for their teaching.
Some of the kids dropped out rather than travel those 10 miles. Black children walked to a dilapidated country school. “I noticed what a huge difference there was in opportunities which opened up for me by the quality of the fact that I was able to receive an education,” he said in 2001.
Gov. Winter was born into a political family. His father, William Aylmer Winter, worked three terms in the state Senate and three terms in the state House. As a boy, young William played in the Mississippi Capitol halls.
He served in the U.S. Army throughout World War II and was still a law student when he was elected to the state House in 1947.
William Winter As State Tax Collector in 1956
William was elected state tax collector in 1956, growing into one of the highest-paid public officials in the United States. Rather than hold onto the profitable job that involved collecting Mississippi’s tax on black-market whisky, he suggested that the office be removed, and it was.
The former Gov. was elected state treasurer back in 1963 and also a lieutenant governor in 1971. He lost the race in 1975 and then won it in 1979.
Throughout his years as governor, William and his wife, Elise, entertained social meetings for people raised in politics and the arts, which included authors Eudora Welty and Willie Morris and opera soprano Leontyne Price.
In 1982, members of Winter’s gubernatorial organization, known as the “Boys of Spring,” traveled to Mississippi to form a case for education improvement, as the team included Molpus and future Gov.
Ray Mabus, who was the secretary of the Navy throughout Barack Obama’s presidency. People were particularly resistant to require kindergarten, which they viewed as government opposition.
The Education Reform Act passed over the stand of many legislative leaders throughout a special gathering in late 1982.
“I was one person in a huge delegation literally by so many people in this state that made their decisions, as they were willing to do something about developing education,” Winter stated in 2001.
There have been more deaths recently, including the Star Ward actor, as Jeremy Bulloch’s death cause was released after the star died Dec. 17 at a hospital in London at the age of 75