Walter M. Windsor
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The Celebration of the Life of Walter M. Windsor
The Celebration of the Life of Walter M. Windsor was held from 7 to 10 pm on Monday, March 10, 2008 at the Orlando Repertory Theatre in Orlando, Florida. There were approximately 150 very special people in attendance. Many photos are shown below.
We felt like it was a very good show, but we were the ones to put it together, and as Walter's kids, we have always thought highly of ourselves. :-) One thing is for sure, none of us had ever been to a "funeral" like that before, and we probably never will again.
As guests arrived, giant move premiere searchlights filled the sky. Guests walked down a red carpet just like the stars walk down at the Academy Awards. A large photograph of Walter was displayed just inside the "VIP Entrance." A star on Walter's Walk of Fame was located on the floor near the entrance to the theatre where the program was presented. The lobby had displays of Walter's memorabilia, photographs, awards, and much more.
Tony Windsor served as emcee and welcomed the guests and noted a number of special guests. Tony told guests that the symbol of the theatre is a set of masks - one for comedy and one for tragedy. He advised the guests that this was not a funeral, but a celebration, and there would be a wide variety of messages - sad, happy, funny, and guests should feel free to laugh and clap and cry. The presentations provided plenty of opportunity for laughing, clapping, and crying!
Gene Columbus of The Orlando Repertory Theatre welcomed the guests. He explained that Walter had been a very important supporter of the Theatre and the arts in Orlando. Theatres are usually dark on Monday nights, but The Rep agreed to open to honor "one of its own."
Billy Windsor, the first-born son of Walter and Mary Windsor and now the patriarch of the Windsor family, presented a eulogy on behalf of the family titled "He was Special." Bill's presentation was based on a "This is Your Life" format. Photos were used to illustrate Bill's eulogy about Walter's life and contributions. There were many laughs and quite a few tears, though Bill did manage to complete the job without calling for back-up help that was arranged to step in if his tears became overwhelming.
Roger Blair, Armand Marchesano, and Michael Kramer then performed Walter's favorite song, "Star Dust."
Jim Robinson and Bob Jordan then gave special presentations. Walter had requested that Jim and Bob speak at any event held following his death. Jim was an owner of Channel 9, and Bob was and is the News Director at Channel 9. Jim gave a touching speech about Walter's successes in Orlando and their friendship over the last 40 years. Bob told a lot of funny stories and explained why Walter was such a good manager.
Jacqueline Jones then dazzled the audience with her rendition of "They Can't Take That Away From Me." Michael Kramer accompanied her on the piano.
Harvey and Nick Harper spoke, with Harvey delivering a message from Walter's daughter, Wendy. A 90-year slide show was then presented as compiled by Wendy Windsor. The slides were accompanied by wonderful songs by Nat King Cole, Natalie Cole, Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, and Judy Garland. Unfortunately, none of them could be there in person, but their recordings certainly sounded great on the Theatre's fabulous sound system.
Winn Williams read a poem. Marty Windsor then delivered a short eulogy titled "No Regrets." She related a story about how Walter thought he had a child piano prodigy on his hands when Marty could bang out a few notes that sounded like "Stranger in the Night" at the age of 5. Marty's speech was cleverly supplemented by a hidden pianist who simulated the rudimentary notes that Marty likely played and then played a concert-quality version that Marty felt was probably the way proud papa Walter was hearing it. It was very clever and funny and one of the many highlights of the evening.
Ray Michel than gave a personal message about Walter and sang "My Way." He was accompanied by Michael Kramer on the piano.
Several guests spoke from the audience as Danny Treanor and Tony Windsor acted as roving reporters with wireless microphones out in the audience. Those who spoke included Danny Treanor, Carolyn Bazzo, Joyce Kimbrell, Jackie Jones, Mary Scott, Russ Robinson, and others.
As the evening was patterned in some ways after an awards ceremony like the Academy Awards or the Emmy Awards, a 3-minute tribute was presented to honor key people in Walter's life who were already in Heaven. This "In Memoriam" slide show was accompanied by the theme from the movie "Simon Burch."
Reverend Donna Conley gave a closing prayer, and then Al and Sharon Short played "Cabin in the Sky."
The formal program then ended when The Orlando Repertory Theatre brought out a giant photograph of Walter and explained the use of ghost lights in the theatre. The Rep has named their ghost light "Walter" in honor of Walter M. Windsor.
Tony Windsor choked up as he closed with the famous George M. Cohan line from Yankee Doodle Dandy: "My mother thanks you, my father thanks you, my brother thanks you, my sisters thank you, and I thank you."
The guests then mingled and talked in the theatre and in the lobby where Charlie's Strawberry Cheesecake was served (Walter's favorite dessert).
We had a few glitches, but not bad for "live TV" with no rehearsals. It started about 15 minutes late, and every single presenter took longer than we estimated, except Reverend Donna Conley who was right on time as she was at the graveside service. You may access a copy of the printed program for the Celebration by clicking on this pdf file link.
It was a "funeral" unlike any that any of us have ever attended. We loved putting it together. We all put together separate pieces, and we never compared notes on what any of us were going to say or present.
One thing is for sure - Walter was one proud papa sitting up in Heaven with a front row seat. The show was all about him, and it was filled with love and appreciation. As one of Walter's music friends, Charlie Borneman, said: "Thank you for inviting me to the celebration of Walter's life. It was heartening to see the love you all had for Walter, and for each other."
For those of you who were unable to attend, we have photos on the web site. We also hope to have a DVD to send out. Please email us with your name and address if you would like to receive a DVD with the various presentations and performances.
I have to tell a story about Dad's great-granddaughter (my granddaughter), Madison. She is 5 years old, and she sat in the front row for the Celebration. She sat there for the whole two hours, and she was so well behaved. I was very proud. I asked Madison how she liked the Celebration. She replied honestly that it was "so-so." The night before, she danced with Cinderella and Prince Charming at a special Disney event, so I can fully understand how we were a tough act to follow. I asked what she liked best, and she said photos that she was in. Very honest answer - I think most of us are that way. I asked what she didn't like, and she said "people laughed at things that I didn't think were funny." If you were there, you would have heard Madison laugh at a few things I said early on that weren't funny. I kind of wondered about it at the time. Now I know what happened. She heard people laughing at several of my funny comments in the beginning, and she wanted to participate and fit in, so she laughed too. Then she laughed sometimes thinking everything I said was supposed to be funny. Then she realized that she couldn't tell what was funny and what wasn't. She said, "BamPa, there are just a lot of things that I don't understand yet." I didn't tell her that we all feel that way our entire lives.
I hoped I would receive an email from Dad in Heaven saying how much he loved it! God hasn't installed an email system yet, so maybe that will give Dad a project to head up. But I know Dad and Mom were just overjoyed with everyone who came and with the thoughtful, funny, sad, and entertaining presentations.
Because we ran over the time we anticipated, we may not have properly thanked some people. We'd like to be sure everyone knows how much we appreciated having you there.
Special thanks to the staff and management of WFTV Channel 9 for having a camera crew there the entire evening to create a video of the Celebration! Gary Singer, the cameraman, worked for Dad at Channel 9, and he's still there 30 years later. The management of Channel 9 also made it possible for anchors Bob Opsahl and Martie Salt to take time off work between newscasts to come and see the show. If Channel 9 is not currently your TV news provider, please do us a favor and make the switch. Bob Jordan and his team do a great job, and they are truly special people. And in our world, we all need to support the special people!
Huge thanks to The Orlando Repertory Theatre. They provided the theatre and their wonderful staff at no charge to us, and they worked tirelessly to give us a great event. They also ended the evening with a touching presentation in which they named the "ghost light" that every theatre has so the stage will never go dark in honor of our Dad. The ghost light at The Rep is now named "Walter." PLEASE support The Rep by attending their wonderful shows during the years ahead!
Special thanks to all of Dad's musician friends. You meant so much to Dad over the last 20 years of his life. You were truly his best friends after my Mom died and he retired. We are so sorry that a glitch at the theatre did not get a piano onto the stage in the lobby so you could all perform! Our sincere apologies...and we hope you each got two slices of cheesecake!
Thanks to all of the members of the Guy Lombardo Appreciation SSociety for their attendance; every living member but one was in the audience, and only a blood clot kept her away. President Craig Linton was among the guests. Thanks to all of the friends of the various Windsors for coming -- some who didn't know Dad except as the father of a friend who they saw on TV or acting in the theatre.
Click here for photos of the funeral.
Click here to read the Eulogy Presentation of Billy Windsor. This 35-minute presentation was accompanied by 300 photographs.
Click here to read the Eulogy of Wendy Windsor Harper.
|Walter's four children - Billy, Wendy, Marty, and Tony Windsor next to a giant photo of Walter taken on Christmas Day 2007.||Bob Jordan, News Director of Channel 9, and the Reverend Donna Conley were both speakers.||Jacqueline Jones and Ray Michel sang beautiful solos during the Celebration presentation.|
|Jim Robinson was a featured speaker - Jim and his wife Betty.||The seats began to fill up before the formal presentation began - approximately 150 people attended. The theatre has three seating areas just like this one.||The Guy Lombardo Appreciation SSociety ("GLASS") - every living member but one was in attendance. President Craig Linton is fourth from the left on the second row.|
|Lindsay, John, and Carolyn Bazzo - Best friends of Bill and Barbara Windsor and thus dear friends of Walt and Mary.||Bob Opsahl, long-time anchorman at WFTV Channel 9. Walter "discovered" Bob.||Carole Nelson - She became Orlando's first female anchorwoman on Walter's watch at Channel 9.|
|Entrance to the theatre - display of Walter's photos and awards just to the left.||Guests look at some of Walter's memorabilia on display - Art Grindle and Dr. Linda King.||Joyce Kimbrell speaks from the audience.|
|Walter's great granddaughter, Madison Harrell. She's only 5 and she sat there politely throughout the entire show. She reported that her favorite part was photos that included her!||Marty Windsor and her date, Jim Poulalion. Marty organized The Celebration and did a spectacular job. Jim helped in many ways and produced DVDs of the family's home movies.||Tony Windsor was the emcee for The Celebration. He was formerly a weekend anchorman at Channel 9. #2 child and son and Walter's housemate for the last two years.|
|Poster at the entrance to The Orlando Repertory Theatre. Guests walked the Red Carpet to get in; the Windsors purchased the red carpet for the event and donated it to The Orlando Repertory Theatre.||Walter's grandson Nicholas Harper gave a speech. Grandpa and grandson were very close.||Walter's grandson Ryan Windsor with his girlfriend Yuriko Kawaguchi and her daughter Kailey - posing with the giant photo of Walter.|
|Aunt Hazel - the eldest of the Johnson girls - Walter's #1 sister-in-law.||Aunt Peggy - sweet, sweet sister-in-law.||Barbara Stump worked with Walter at Channel 9. She is the widow of Charlie Stump, famous Orlando meteorologist.|
|Bill Wall - high school friend and former dater of Marty Windsor. He claimed he really spoke with Walter just once, and Walter did all the talking. :-)||Billy Windsor with the giant photo of his Dad, Walter.||Bobby Dee Morand - close family friend from Texarkana and Shreveport; Bobby and his sisters and parents lived two houses down from the Windsors.|
|Carolyn Bazzo, Judy Gray Overall, and Carol Woolfolk. Carolyn and Carol are close friends to Billy and Barbara, and Judy is Barbara's big sister.||Channel 9 News Director Bob Jordan was one of the featured speakers. He told many funny stories and gave an excellent presentation.||Miss Kailey Kawaguchi came to pay her respects to Grand BamPa.|
|Harvey Harper, Walter's son-in-law, delivered Wendy Windsor Harper's eulogy.||Dick Batchelor, Orlando political figure and a long-time friend of Walter's and the Windsor family.||Kelli and Frances Burgess. The Burgess family was absolutely the best friends of the Windsors!|
|Jacqueline Jones sang beautifully. She also delivered a personal message about Walter.||Joyce and Rastus Kimbrell.||Frances Burgess with Billy's granddaughter Madison. 5-year-old Madison was there for the entire show.|
|Marty Windsor and Joe Andary, Walter's former son-in-law.||Russ Robinson (left) was Frank Sinatra's piano player for many years. Russ and Walter were musical friends for many years.||Randy and Alen Trammel - Randy is a dear friend of Bill and Barbara Windsor.|
|Ryan Windsor and the Windsor family met cousin Beth Winkopp for the first time at the Celebration. She's delightful!||Grandson Ryan had one request from the "Windsor kids" - he asked if he could have the woodcarving of Walter. It was an amazing likeness done by Don Moore, a former employee of Walter's.||Mary Scott, a neighbor of Walter's from Spring Valley told a funny story about how Walter drafted her to donate time to PESO because of a mishap caused by her dogs. Channel 9 news photographer is working in the background.|
|The Windsor kids made a special presentation in the lobby to Frances Burgess, Walter and Mary's best friend for the last 58 years.||The "Windsor kids" - Tony (Hard Rock), Marty (Murt the Gurt), Wendy (Woot Woot Wooter), and Billy (Billy Bam or BamPa).||Winn F. Williams read a poem.|
|Walter M. Windsor star on his "Walk of Fame" heading into the Theatre.||Wendy Windsor Harper with her childhood friend, Bobby Morand.||Nao Tsurumaki and Gene Columbus from The Orlando Repertory Theatre provided the theatre and full services to thank Walter for his support of the Theatre.|
|Bob Crowell is contributing scans of sheet music covers to enhance Walter's internet and music legacy - www.songdex.net. Bob worked with Walter at Channel 9.||Pat Geddes Weiss and her husband Michael Weiss. Pat was Walter's escort at a number of functions.||Jim Canavan, one of Marty's high school friends. Jim helped the family load and unload all of the stuff that was brought for the event - nice, nice man.|
|Heather Whittall Hanks, her mother, and husband Jarrod. Heather starred in Annie with Walter, who played Daddy Warbucks.||Al and Sharon Short performed "Cabin in the Sky," a tune that Walter asked to have played.||Cousin Bill Winkopp speaks with singer Roger Blair who first saw Walter in the Army in 1945.|
|Erin Orr, Marty's good friend from Lake Brantley High School days.||Frances Burgess with the bust that she and Mary bought many years ago.||A giant photo of Walter was placed under a spotlight at the conclusion of the program.|
|Tony's good friend, Roger Pynn, chats with other guests.||Jacqueline Jones did an incredible job singing "They Can't Take That Away From Me."||Ted and Jan Spruill both worked for Walter.|
|Aunt Peggy Pillow, Frances Burgess, and Aunt Hazel DiSanto.||Billy Windsor was presented with a flag by the U.S. Government to show appreciation for Walter's four years of service in the Army during World War II.||Kurt (step great-grandson) and Chip Harper (step grandson).|
|Brianna and Kaylyn Harper (step great-grandchildren) served punch.||The lobby was quite full as guests stayed until 10:30 to talk, reminisce, and eat Walter's favorite Strawberry Cheesecake.||Michelle and Brianna Harper served cheesecake and cookies.|
|Walter's cousins Beth and Bill Winkopp.||Harvey Harper, Weather Guy Danny Treanor, and Wendy Windsor Harper.||Jackie Jones and fans chatting after the show.|
|Jan Spruill, Wendy Windsor Harper, Debbie Duffy Roberts and her daughter, Shannon Dilday.||Billy Windsor's eulogy to his Dad was titled "He was Special" and was accompanied by a slide show.||Billy Windsor speaks with guests after the show.|
|This was a production of the relatives of Walter. His sisters-in-law and cousin folded programs, and all of the relatives had a role.||Barbara and Stan Thibeault.||Nick Harper with the last of the cheesecake.|
|Walter's two grandsons - Nicholas Harper and Ryan Windsor with the flag awarded to Walter for his World War II service.||Barbara Stump chatting with friends.||Singer Ray Michel enjoying cheesecake and coffee with Pam Brody Dillon.|
|Stephanie Shultz (Walter's granddaughter) gives two thumbs up to the show...||Stephanie had a long day as her mom, Marty Windsor, was in charge of the Celebration event at the Theatre...||...and she pooped out as her Mom lead the team in cleaning up after the Celebration.|
|Sonja Marchesano and guests during Cheesecake Hour.||Heather Whittall Hanks and Tony Windsor. Heather was in Annie when Walter played "Daddy Warbucks."||Gwen Woods and Winn Williams (Tony's best friend) chatting with Dr. Linda King during Cheesecake Hour.|
|Two of Mary Windsor's four sisters were able to attend - Peggy and Hazel.||Carolyn Bazzo read a message from Billy's wife, Barbara, who was unable to attend due to a blood clot in her leg.||Lobby filling up before the presentation.|
|Memorabilia displays in the lobby of the Theatre.||Reverend Donna Conley knew Walter since 1968. She gave the closing prayer at the Celebration.||Sweet Frances Burgess. Walter's best female friend for 58 years.|
|A pianist played music from this grand piano as the guests arrived.||Guests mingling and looking at Walter's photos and memories before the program began.||Walter's #1 daughter, Wendy, her husband Harvey and son Nicholas with giant photo of Dad.|
|Walter's daughter #2, Marty, gave a wonderful message that included surprise piano performances.||Ray Michel sang "My Way."||Walter's #1 grandson, Ryan, with his long-time girlfriend, Yuriko Kawaguchi.|
|He worked at Channel 9 when Dad was there.||Walter's #2 son, Tony, with the giant photo of Walter.||Portrait of Walter M. Windsor on display in the lobby of The Orlando Repertory Theatre.|
|Sharon and Al Short performed "Cabin in the Sky."||Bob Jordan.||Reverend Donna Conley, Bob Opsahl, Carole Nelson, and Jackie Jones.|
|Guests enjoying cheesecake.||Reverend Donna Conley said a prayer at the end of the presentations.||Guests enjoying cheesecake.|
|Guests arriving.||Guests in memorabilia area.||Guests in memorabilia area.|
|Jim Robinson.||Jacqueline Jones accompanied by Michael Kramer.||Marty Windsor.|
|Memorabilia display.||Memorabilia display.||Reverend Donna Conley, Carole Nelson, Danny Treanor, Tony Windsor, and Ward Overall.|
|Kurt Harper and Myles Maroon.||Myles Maroon arriving for the Celebration.|
|Gene Columbus presents "Walter" the ghost light.||Guests photograph the two Walters.|
|Marquee at The Orlando Repertory Theatre honored Walter.||Four high-beam Movie Premiere searchlights illuminated the sky over the theatre. Thanks to cousin Phyllis for this photo.||Guests walked the red carpet to enter the Theatre through the "VIP Entrance." The Windsors donated the red carpet to the Theatre.|
|In the theatre, there are many traditions. One is that you must never leave a stage dark, so theatres have ghost lights. The Orlando Repertory Theatre has named their ghost light "Walter" in honor of Walter M. Windsor.|
|"Walter" illuminating Walter after the Theatre emptied and the guests were enjoying Charlie's Cheesecake in the lobby. VERY COOL!|
Walter M. Windsor