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Jim Winters

This Rebel's cause is caring for students

This Rebel's cause is caring for students

May 18, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN -- Nine years ago, when the last of Jim Winters' children graduated from South Hagerstown High School, students got worried.

Without their devoted athletic boosters president, who would mow the athletic fields ... run the concession stand ... give them lunch money?

"I tell you what, I had kids come up to me and say, 'Mr. Winters, you can't quit. You've got to stay here for my four years, anyway,'" Winters said. "And that just kept going and going and going and going, you know, till I looked back and I'm here 18 years."

Winters, 65, is retired from his painting and wallpaper business. The Hagerstown resident remains president of the athletic boosters and is spending more time than ever at the school.

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Even before retiring, Winters often was at the school from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., running his business from his cell phone.

"I think he puts in more hours than some teachers around here, to be honest," athletic director Mike Tesla said.

Winters mows and lines fields, helps in the cafeteria, assists coaches and the band director, and keeps an eye out for students who might be having problems.

He doesn't get paid for any of it.

"I'm not interested in pay," Winters said. "When I have to be paid to do something, I've lost interest in it."

Winters' connection to the school dates to when he was 4 or 5 years old and played in the woods where the school later was built. He graduated from South Hagerstown in 1963, and all four of his children graduated from the school.

Winters has been volunteering at the school since about 1992. He helped build a new press box, concession stand and announcer's booth, and used his contracting business connections to get all of the materials donated.

"There's not much he hasn't done," art teacher Don Viar said.

Under Winters' leadership, the Rebels athletic boosters have thrived financially, an accomplishment he attributes to hard work.

"If you don't want to do hard work and you don't want to spend time here, you're not going to accomplish anything," Winters said.

Band director Heath Wilcox said Winters was the one to show him where everything was and explain logistics when he started at the school two years ago.

"He's on top of everything," Wilcox said. "Sometimes you don't even know it needs to be done, and it's done."

Winters said he likes taking care of the students. "I'm told by the athletic director that I spoil everybody," he said.

Tesla said Winters always makes sure the athletic director eats something during games. Tesla remembers one time eating a hot dog at a game and joking that if the place were any good, there would be sauerkraut like at Yankee Stadium.

"The next game, there was sauerkraut on my hot dog," Tesla said. "It's just things like that."

Q&A with Jim Winters



Resides in: Hagerstown

Occupation: Retired, owner of Winters Painting and Wallpaper

Q: What is your proudest moment?

A: Winters said his proudest moment was having his painting and wallpaper company selected to work at the White House and being invited there for Christmas by President George W. Bush and his wife. "It's just something that you never dreamed in your life that you'd ever get an opportunity to do."

Q: Whom do you most admire, and why?

A: Winters said he admires his father, who worked at Fairchild for 37 years and earned citations for his work. "He never missed a day of work. Only for his mother and father's funeral. That was all he missed."

Q: What is the best piece of advice you have received, and who gave it to you?

A: "My mom used to always say, 'Do something for the community.'" Even while he was a student at South Hagerstown, Winters said he knew that was where he wanted to focus his service to his community. "Some people would do things for the Lions Club, the Kiwanis and people like that. Well, I just got it in my head that I'm gonna come back and I'm gonna make a difference."

Q: What is the next goal you would like to achieve?

A: Winters said he would like to build a field house at the school that would give athletes a place to work out indoors when the weather is bad. Very few high schools have that luxury, he said.

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