Joe Everett Winstead was born on an ordinary day in Wichita Falls, Texas, to Leonard G. Winstead and Nellie Helen (Reaser) Winstead on March 17, 1938. Thanks to maternal intervention, an early-in-life deal his older sister Janet made to trade her new sibling to a neighbor for a puppy fell through, much to Janet’s disappointment! This made for a great story, however, throughout their lives! Having successfully avoided the canine exchange plan, Joe grew up doing all the things most kids in north Texas might do.....riding horses, hanging out at the local drug store, and delivering telegrams on his bicycle during World War II. After high school, he embarked on his journey to higher education which became his lifelong passion. Following in the footprints of sister Janet, Joe attended hometown Midwestern State University. There, Joe was inspired by a professor, Dr. Art Beyer, who became not only his academic mentor but, also, arranged employment for him to meet financial needs by working with the “grounds crew”. When they were not chasing jack rabbits on bush hogs, they did their best to beautify the campus. Joe also subsidized his education by playing clarinet for the Midwestern marching band and was a dance band member in their Cavalcade of Melody performances. Joe’s early love of music may partially explain both daughters choosing performing arts careers rather than science! After undergraduate school, Joe pursued his education at Ohio University where he earned his Master of Science degree. Shortly after, Joe served his country as a captain in the U. S. Army, and, then, “survived” (literally & figuratively) a very difficult PhD program at the University of Texas. Next came many years as a faculty member who inspired students at Western Kentucky University. Joe then ventured into what he referred to as the “dark side” of academia when he accepted a position as Chair of Biology at Morehead State University. His fate beyond the love of classroom teaching was further sealed when he was offered a position as Dean of Science and Engineering (and “Other Stuff”) at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia. When not annoying upper administration on behalf of his students and faculty, Joe served many terms as president of both the Kentucky Academy of Science and the Association of Southeastern Biologists. Over many decades, Joe endeavored relentlessly to enlighten the creationists and climate change deniers of the world. After retirement, Joe turned to the lighter side of life enjoying world travel, environmental consulting work, research projects, daily happy hour with his single malt Scotch, and lap time with his beloved Yorkies. Joe went to “The Big Rodeo in the Sky” on November 20, 2019.
Preceding him in death were sisters Janet and Martha. Joe is survived by his pesky little brother, Leonard (Butch) Winstead of Newscastle, Texas; daughters Cynthia Backstrom-Winstead of Springfield, Missouri; Courtney Cunningham of Orlando, Florida; and wife Jessie L. Wrenn of Westview, Kentucky, as well as many devoted stepchildren and a menagerie of grandchildren including two great grandchildren.
In lieu of a funeral, Joe has requested that all friends and family visit their local Waffle House or Huddle House restaurant and have a piece of pie and a cup of coffee in his honor. Oh, and he said to tell everyone, “Please vote early and often!” In any event, if you don’t eat fried food, a donation to Hosparus of Kentucky or the Kentucky Chapter of the American Lung Association of which he was a Heritage Club member is suggested. The family requests no flowers.
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