In Memory

Rowland Winters - Class Of 1968

Rowland Winters

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10/15/12 08:48 PM #1    

Denise Wilson (Morrow) (1968)

Rowland was my duet partner in Jr. High along with Tommy Spradling ( also departed) and Rhonda Amos, Rhonda and I just loved singing in the halls of old buildings like the UTC library. I think they had to tell us to stop. The guys were sure brave to get up on stage with us! RIP. I remember his beautiful  sister also.

04/22/13 12:40 PM #2    

Michael R (Winters) (1968)

I am Michael Rowland Winters, the oldest Son of Rowland Gary Winters. I thought that people here who knew him might like to learn a bit about him after his graduation.

He enlisted in the United Sates Marine Corps in 1968 however an injury to his leg forced him to be separated medically prior to his graduation from Boot Camp.

He relocated to the Ocala/Gainesville Florida area and met my Mother, Iris Ann Oldham, his first wife. I was his first child born in Ocala Sept 1st (Labor Day) of 1969. My wife Loree and I have a Daughter Kaitlynn, and a Son, Brandon. My Sister was born on Nov 21st of 1971 in Gainesville. She has a Daughter named Haley.

He sang and played guitar to help make ends meet, particularly at the University Inn just outside UF. One night he was playing some of his music he had written and a man asked if he could record him. Not really knowing any better, he agreed. He got home, told my Mother about it, and she basically said, “You wait, you’re going to hear one of your songs on the radio, you shouldn’t ever let anybody record you.” Surely enough, a short time later they were driving listening to the radio and his song; “Hitchin’ a Ride” began to play. It was recorded by a group called Vanity Fair but with some subtle lyrical changes and revamped into a “pop” song. He obviously received no credit for it and he never let anybody record his stuff again. My Mom has his original draft. I have a bunch more of his original stuff too.

 My Parents divorced when I was four and he moved to Naples, Florida. He began working as A Deputy Sheriff for the Collier County Sheriff’s Office in 1974.

He later married Terry Sue Metts and they had a Son, Adam Brian Winters, born Sept 5th (also Labor Day) of 1976 in Naples.  

He and Terry divorced sometime later and he remarried to Ann Dupree of Immokalee, Florida and later adopted her Son Gregory. He eventually was promoted to Lieutenant Commander and supervised the Collier County Sheriff’s Office Immokalee Sub-Station.

Throughout his life he continued to sing and play guitar here and there. Back in 1969, they had scrimped and saved and he bought an Ovation Deluxe Balladeer guitar (they have round backs as opposed to flat backs). I came to develop an interest in playing and he gave the guitar to me about a year or so before his death. I still have that guitar and it is my most prized possession. My Son, Brandon has also begun playing and singing and I have given him a few Ovations since. He will get Daddy’s Ovation when I kick off.

On December 27th 1987, he was taking Adam back home to his Mother’s house. They were in a single-vehicle accident and Adam was ejected from the car. He survived but underwent a lengthy hospital stay.

I remember once when one of his officer’s was in a terrible car crash and was kept alive on Life Support for a number of days. Daddy said that he would never want that. If there wasn’t a chance for recovery, he would want the plug pulled.

On December 29th, after undergoing numerous surgeries, tests showed that he had no brain activity and there was zero chance of recovery. Daddy was taken off of life support as per his previous request.

He was cremated and his best friend and I scattered his ashes in the sea off Naples.

He had once told me that if I ever thought about going into the Marine Corps, “Don’t, to go into the Air Force, they have it made and they have the prettiest girls.” I graduated from Marine Corps Boot Camp at Parris Island South Carolina June 8th 1990 and following my schools immediately went to the Persian Gulf for a Combat tour in support of Operation Desert Storm. I am in the Tennessee National Guard now, did a Combat deployment to Mosul Iraq in 2009-10 and am set to deploy to Afghanistan next year.

He once told me that if I ever thought about going into Law Enforcement, “Don’t, everybody hates cops.” I began my Law Enforcement career following my Honorable Discharge from the Marine Corps eventually becoming a Corporal with the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office and an Adjunct Instructor at the Indian River State College Criminal Justice Center.

It certainly wasn’t the case that I simply ignored his advice, I just wanted to be more like him. I don’t sing as beautifully as he did but I sing for my Wife and she likes it. I don’t play as beautifully as he did but I still play. My kids never got to meet him, just like I never met Daddy’s father (he died shortly before I was born). My kids have however been able to hear him play and sing on an old recording of him my Mom has, I think they are lucky for it. Interestingly enough, his song “Hitchin’ a Ride” isn’t on it.

The following is the absolute truth. I still get goose bumps whenever I think about it or tell somebody about it. I have them now.

One time when Brandon was about 5 I think, he and I were in the car and he just out of the blue started softly singing a song that sounded eerily familiar to me. I asked him what he was singing and he said just a song and continued a little louder so I could hear him. He was just happily singing a song I know for an absolute fact he had never heard before…he sang, “Ride, Ride, Ride, Hitchin’ a Ride, Ride, Ride, Ride, Hitchin’ a Ride”. I still get goose bumps whenever I think about it or tell somebody about it. I have them now.

I miss my Father terribly every day. I hope that people here knew him and enjoyed him as much as so many other people got to. Please, if anyone has any little stories about him, please share them with me so I can pass them along. My most easily accessed e-mail is


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