Flora Nowell Winfree was a remarkable woman and devout Christian, full of passion and energy that she brought to every aspect of her life. Born on August 28, 1926, and growing up in the small town of Wendell, NC, Mrs. Winfree was a woman always ahead of her time. In the 1940s, long before the civil rights movement galvanized the nation, Mrs. Winfree was passionate about racial issues. In 1948, she tested those convictions by spending a month at an integrated Quaker Work Camp in Harper's Ferry, WV, culminating in harassment by the local KKK....
Flora Nowell Winfree was a remarkable woman and devout Christian, full of passion and energy that she brought to every aspect of her life. Born on August 28, 1926, and growing up in the small town of Wendell, NC, Mrs. Winfree was a woman always ahead of her time. In the 1940s, long before the civil rights movement galvanized the nation, Mrs. Winfree was passionate about racial issues. In 1948, she tested those convictions by spending a month at an integrated Quaker Work Camp in Harper's Ferry, WV, culminating in harassment by the local KKK. At one time, she even hoped to write a novel based on her experiences. At least partly inspired by the 1946 publication of Trumpet to the World, she exchanged letters with author Mark Harris until his death in 2007.
After graduating from Queens College in 1947, she worked as a reporter for the Winston-Salem Journal-Sentinel, joining other women such as Mary Garber, who were breaking into the traditionally male profession. "Shortages Are Still Headaches" was the headline for her first article which ran on December 18, 1947. Later, as a features writer, she often wrote about women's issues and won a Press Award in 1950.
In 1949, she married Wallace Martin Winfree, her partner in life for 61 years. She continued to work until the birth of their first child in 1951. True to form, long before natural childbirth became common, she chose to have all four of her children without any form of anesthesia, despite the skepticism of her OB. She did not disparage her new role at home, bringing that same energy and passion into motherhood: encouraging each of her children in their gifts, creating special family traditions and delaying her own aspirations until her youngest child was in school.
At that time, she went back to school herself, and in 1971, graduated with the very first class of Physician's Assistants at Bowman Gray School of Medicine. Though common now, it was a brand new concept at the time. She worked at Amos Cottage, a children's rehabilitation hospital, until retiring in 1991, but continued to volunteer at Baptist Hospital for years.
Both before and after retirement, Mr. and Mrs. Winfree volunteered countless hours together through organizations such as Meals on Wheels, the Samaritan Soup Kitchen and Contact Telephone Crisis Line. They were also faithful members of Highland Presbyterian Church, where Mrs. Winfree served as an elder and Adult Sunday School teacher. The couple traveled extensively, to National Parks and dulcimer camps, an instrument they took up together through a group that met at Brookridge Retirement Center. This led them to sell their home on Horace Mann Avenue and move into an apartment at Brookridge, where they are fondly remembered walking the halls together hand in hand.
After losing her beloved husband in 2011, Mrs. Winfree continued to live at Brookridge, where she died peacefully on September 10, 2016, shortly after celebrating her 90th birthday.
Sadly, she was preceded in death one year ago by her daughter Alison Winfree Pickrell; also sister Mary Nowell Richardson and her husband Horace Earl Richardson, and daughter-in-law Patricia New Winfree. Mrs. Winfree is survived by her son Martin Winfree & wife Peggy; son Tom Winfree & children Chad & Rachel Audrey; daughter Julie Kovasckitz, husband Dan & children Judson, Lucas, Delcie, Rudy, and Kenan; son-in-law Brian Pickrell, his children David, Danny & wife Kathleyne & grandchildren Cody, Haliey and Brianna.
A memorial service will be held on Monday, September 19 at 4pm, with reception following, at Highland Presbyterian Church: 2380 Cloverdale Ave, Winston-Salem, NC. The family wants to thank the congregation of Highland and the staff at Brookridge Retirement Center for their loving care and support.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to the charity of your choice, as Mrs. Winfree did so profusely.