March 25, 1920 - May 29, 2019
“This is such a treat,” “I’m delighted that you are here” and “You look wonderful” were expressions that family members and friends visiting Winifred Wickes heard on a reoccurring basis. The sentiment was genuine. Winifred loved these visits, and a familiar face was a reason for joy. She rarely wanted to talk about herself as she preferred to listen to her visitor and receive a full briefing regarding the visitor’s life and updates about the visitor’s family. Depending on her role and the period in her life, Winifred answered to many names including Winifred, Winnie, Winkie, Wink, Mom, Aunt Winkie, Grammie, Great Grammie and Mrs. Wickes. She was born Winifred Louise Gallant in Worcester, MA in 1920, the sixth and youngest child of James Francis Gallant and Stella Bond Gallant. Her early years were spent swimming and canoeing at Lake Quinsigamond, MA where her father, an immigrant from Prince Edward Island, served as steward of a boat club. Around the age of 6, family members began calling her Winkie after a popular newspaper character. Winifred’s parents were strong Catholics, so many of Winifred’s activities as a youth revolved around her local parish. After the death of her father in 1929, Winifred moved with her family to Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood where they lived in the top floors of a rental home. Winifred and her sister, Josephine, shared a bedroom in the attic. Their landlords, Mr. and Mrs. Ryan, had no children of their own and were especially good to Winifred. Winifred’s brother, Edward, worked to support his mother and his younger sisters. Winifred’s oldest sister, Mary, served as Winifred’s mentor. The years that followed were lean. Winifred remarked that she never realized that they were poor since everyone else she knew was poor too. As a teenager, Winifred was an enthusiastic and active girl scout, eventually earning the Golden Eaglet award. She had special memories of summers spent as a camper and later a counselor at Camp Bonnie Brae in the Berkshires. Winifred was a good student and graduated from Dorchester High School at age 16. She enrolled at Boston Teacher’s College, commuting to classes via subway and street car. While at Boston Teacher’s College she became part of a closely knit group of 12 women who named themselves ‘PCTCs’. The women swore each other to secrecy, especially when it came to the meaning of the group’s name. Winifred was the last surviving PCTC member, and she took her PCTC secrets to the grave. While in college, Winifred worked part-time at a local 5 & 10 cent store. In 1938 she met her future husband, John Wickes, at a college dance. Winifred graduated with a BS in Education in 1940 and went to work for the War Production Board, which she later described as “the best paying job I could find”. Winifred married John Wickes in August, 1943. Following the ceremony, John soon returned to England where he served as a pilot for a US Navy bombing squadron. Their first child, Betsy, was born in Portsmouth, VA in December, 1944. After the war, the family moved to Miami, FL where Jack, Cecelia and Nancy were born in quick succession. Winifred secured her driver’s license while in Florida, passing her test on a scooter. The young family moved north in the early 50s to the growing suburbs of Levittown, NY. In 1956 they moved again to the woods of Ironia, NJ where John and Winifred’s youngest child, Steve, was born in 1958. During their years in Randolph Township, Winifred was a full-time homemaker who kept the busy, active family organized and moving in the right direction. John’s job as an international airline pilot for Pan American Airways took him away for weeks at a time so Winifred often filled both parental roles at home. On most summer afternoons she would fill the family Rambler station wagon with children and drive to Heistein’s Lake. Once at Heistein’s, she would sit on the beach gazing into the water counting heads over and over again. Winifred enjoyed professional sports. She was a New York Mets fan, watching games on television while knitting. Winifred and John shared New York Jets season tickets for many years with their lifelong friends, Don and Loretta Whitney. Winifred stayed active outside the home by volunteering as a PTA officer, coordinating the local Girl Scout cookie drive, and serving on the building committee at St. Lawrence Catholic Church. Winifred was elected twice to the Randolph Board of Education. Shongum Elementary School was built during her time in office. After her four older children graduated from high school, Winifred returned to school to secure a librarian’s certificate. In 1970 she became the librarian at Fernbrook Elementary, a position she held until retirement. Reading was one of Winifred’s joys. For many years she belonged to a book group consisting of other Randolph friends and educators. Winifred and John retired to Casselberry, FL in 1982 where they enjoyed their pool, the warm Florida sunshine and frequent visits from friends and family. Their home was both a destination in itself and a staging area for trips to Disney World, Epcot, Universal Studios and other numerous Orlando attractions. Winifred became active in her new community, serving in various roles including President of the Casselberry Women’s Club, docent for the Orlando Museum of Art and a teacher of English as a second language. Thanks to John’s travel pass as an airline pilot, Winifred and John enjoyed many wonderful vacations over the years including journeys to Rome, France, Alaska, Poland, Pasadena, Brazil, Jamaica, Scotland, Portugal and Hawaii. They regularly visited family members in many locations including Massachusetts, California, Myrtle Beach, Jacksonville, Seattle, Washington DC, Indiana, New Jersey, St. Louis, Iowa, Kansas City, and Louisville. After John’s sudden death in 1991, Winifred continued to travel and enjoyed regular Elderhostel trips with friends and her sister, Josephine. In 1999, motivated by a desire to live closer to her children and grandchildren, Winifred moved to the Meadowood Retirement Community in Bloomington. She was an active resident at Meadowood and could often be found helping with the bingo games, attending numerous social events and walking on the trails between Meadowood and Griffy Lake. Winifred loved the cultural and spectator sports opportunities in Bloomington. She introduced some of her grandchildren to the opera at the IU Jacobs Musical Arts Center. She rarely missed an IU women’s volleyball or basketball game. Winifred attended IU Mini University each summer with friends or her sisters, Jo and Estelle. Winifred volunteered regularly at Opportunity House and the Community Kitchen of Monroe County. Winifred was a devoted Catholic her entire life. Her sister Estelle joined the Marist Missionary Sisters as Sister Mary Anthony on the same day that Winifred and John married. Winifred’s sister, Josephine, shared Winfred’s liberal Catholic leanings. The two of them traded issues of Commonweal Magazine back and forth and regularly shared their views about their faith and the church. After moving to Bloomington, Winifred was a member of St. Paul Catholic Church and liked to sit near the front of the church at Mass on Sunday mornings. Winifred loved her family. She wrote to her mother every week from the time she left home in 1943 until her mother’s death in 1980. She stayed close to her siblings and especially enjoyed the occasional reunions of the four Gallant girls. She relished her role as a grandmother to the 9 granddaughters and 2 grandsons who were born between 1976 and 1995. Every grandchild received a sweater knitted by Grammie. Winifred could be described with many adjectives including witty, bright, social, affirming, fair, positive, loving, fun, inquisitive, balanced, hopeful, faithful, stoic and loyal. Winifred lived a good and full life. She died, surrounded by loved ones, on May 29th, 2019. Winifred was preceded in death by her parents, her brothers, James Gallant, Jr. and Brig. Gen. Edward Gallant (USAF), and her sisters, Mary (Gallant) Russell, Sister Mary Anthony, SMSM, and Josephine (Gallant) Sullivan. Winifred is survived by her children, Betsy Wickes, Seattle, Jack (Julia) Wickes, Indianapolis, Cecelia (David) Knapp, Bloomington, Nancy Volpe, Albuquerque and Stephen (Lisa) Wickes, Marion, IN. She is also survived by grandchildren Katie (Brandon) Conovitz, Brooklyn, Michelle (Brad) Roe, Albuquerque, Elizabeth Knapp, Bloomington, Maggie (Kevin) Callahan, Austin, TX, Adrienne Knapp, Colorado Springs, Andrew Volpe, Los Angeles, Anna (Andy) Brodie, Brooklyn, Teresa Volpe, Albuquerque, Matt (Samantha) Wickes, Kingsport, TN, Hilary Wickes-Bailey (Justin Bailey) Knoxville, TN, Caroline Wickes, Lander, WY, and 11 great-grandchildren (with #12 on the way). A memorial service is scheduled for June 22 at 2PM at the Meadowood Retirement Community in Bloomington. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Opportunity House or The Friends of the Monroe County Library, both in Bloomington. Memorial donations may also be made to The Marist Missionary Sisters in Waltham, MA, the religious order of her late sister, Estelle. Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.fergusonlee.com. Arrangements are under the direction of the Ferguson-Lee Chapel of Thorne-George Family Funeral Homes, Bedford, IN.
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