The Honorable William F. Winter, 58th Governor of the State of Mississippi


*Photo courtesy of Peggy Hampton

William F. Winter served as Governor of Mississippi from 1980 to 1984. Prior to that he was elected to the offices of state representative, state tax collector, state treasurer and lieutenant governor.  He has been chairman of the Southern Regional Education Board, the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Southern Growth Policies Board, the Commission on the Future of the South, the National Civic League, the Kettering Foundation, the Foundation for the Mid-South, and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. The Honorable William Winter was a member of President Clinton’s National Advisory Board on Race, and his term as Governor has been nationally acclaimed for the groundbreaking passage of education reform legislation.  Governor Winter was instrumental in the founding of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation at the University of Mississippi, and in 2008 he was awarded the Profile in Courage Award by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.  An attorney in the Jones Walker law firm in Jackson, he is a graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Law.  He is married to the former Elise Varner with whom he has three daughters, five grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.


Kind Words

Governor Winter was honored at Mississippi KIDS COUNT’S Light Up The Night Celebration on January 31, 2013. Our evening hosts shared the following thoughtful words about our inaugural Luminary who turned 90 this year.

Many thanks go to Governor Winter, whose support in this effort has been and continues to be critical.  BRI is pleased to honor Governor Winter and to wish him Happy Birthday.
― Claiborne Barksdale, CEO
Barksdale Reading Institute
Growing up in the Grenada area, I have always had a great knowledge and admiration for Governor Winter and his family.  He has been a great ambassador for Mississippi children for over seventy years, from a young man growing up on his Grenada county family farm and throughout his years in public service to the State of Mississippi. He is also a great champion of Mississippi's natural resources through the conservation efforts on his family tree farm. Congratulations to Governor Winter on his 90th birthday and to Ms. Elise for sharing the Governor with us, the people of Mississippi.
― Gary and Johanna Blair
Southern AgCredit, ACA
Governor Winter embodies what is best about Mississippi. His care and concern for all people, and his courageousness to stand up for what is right, has distinguished him as one of the great leaders in the history of our state. Mississippi is a better place because of William Winter. 
― Michael K. Clayborne, President
CREATE Foundation
On behalf of the Fellows of the Social Science Research Center, I extend our congratulations to Governor Winter for the well-deserved recognition in receiving the first Mississippi KIDS COUNT Luminary Award.  Governor Winter’s numerous contributions to the state of Mississippi are legendary and the center is delighted to play a part in celebrating his accomplishments.
― Dr. Arthur Cosby, Director
Social Science Research Center, Mississippi State University
Among the many gifts he’s given our state, Governor Winter has been a champion of public education in Mississippi. His support for the education of the very youngest of our state’s citizens mirrors our current commitment to establish state funded early childhood education. We’ll be forever grateful to him for his dedication to Mississippi and its future – our children.
― Haley Fisackerly, President and CEO
Entergy Mississippi, Inc.
Governor Winter’s passion for education and his efforts in transforming our public schools into centers of excellence has made a tremendous impact on the lives of our children. On behalf of generations of children, thank you, Governor Winter.
― Danny J. Spreitler, Executive Director
Gilmore Foundation
I joined Watkins, Ludlam Winter & Stennis as its 13th attorney in 1970- primarily because of the regard that I had for William Winter. William was then the voice of reason and enlightenment for educational progress, racial reconciliation and economic opportunity, as he has been from the day that he first held state-wide office to this very day. His voice was often solitary, and his words and actions took both political and personal courage- but he gave us hope and a vision. The enormous impact of that courage and vision has been multiplied by his truly remarkable ability to inspire others toward action and involvement. However, William’s greatest personal achievement was getting Elise to marry him.
― Randall B. Wall, Special Counsel
Business & Commercial Transactions Practice Group
Jones, Walker, Waechter, Poitevent, Carrère & Denègre L.L.P.

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