Being the change she wishes to see in the world
DUNCAN - Determination. Dedication. Commitment and Caring.
These four words summed up a brief statement Patty Wininger gave at the Duncan City Council swearing-in ceremony last May. She was elected to a second term for the Ward 3 seat and, after taking her oath of office, was elected vice-mayor. It was uncontested and unanimous.
“We’re going to go forward with determination, dedication, commitment, and caring to make this community better for our children and grandchildren,” the Duncan Banner quoted her as saying that evening.
In a nutshell, those four words pretty much sums up Patty’s mission in life: Determination, dedication, commitment and caring applied to everything.
In a recent interview with the Southwest Ledger, she said she’s not sure where her drive and passion originally started. She just wants life to be better for people she is around - “People I know and people I don’t know.”
Patty was born to military parents, the late Jack and Lena Hawkins, in Munich, Germany. She was raised in Lawton when Jack was stationed at Fort Sill in 1956.
“His job at Fort Sill was in the area of electronics for guidance missile systems. After retiring he started fixing radios and televisions out of the garage,” she said. In time, Jack’s “garage” business grew into the successful Hawkins TV & Electronics in Lawton and then expanded into Wichita Falls and Duncan.
Patty worked in the family business from the age of 12 and said she remembers the hardworking business climate in Lawton in the 1960s and 1970s. “It was a group of hard-working men and women establishing businesses and raising families,” she said, naming several families including the Solis’, the Wolvertons, the Hamras, and the Absheres.
“It was a great business climate and from that time period there are still long-standing family businesses today,” she said.
Patty attended school at B.C. Swinney Elementary, Tomlinson Junior High and graduated from Lawton High School in 1971. During high school, she was involved in student council, yearbook, and the pep club.
Her time on the student council possibly foreshadowed her current involvement in the city council.
“I really liked the student council. It was student-led and student inclusive. Everybody got a seat at the table. There was diversity.
“I liked the whole process. Everyone got a vote and was represented no matter what their interests were. It was like a representative form of government. Everyone had a voice and was able to speak,” she said. “I enjoyed being a part of the process.”
Actually, Patty didn’t set out in life to be involved in politics or city management. Her dream from the time she was a young girl, was to be a nurse. “I admired the Army nurses,” she said. “Their uniforms were starched. They carried the keys and the generals minded them.”
After graduating from LHS in 1971, she attended the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) in Edmond for two years, where she met her husband, Floyd. He earned a degree in funeral education and eventually worked at Becker Funeral Home.
Patty attended Cameron during the years it was changing from a college to a university, 1973-75, and earned her nursing degree and became a Registered Nurse (RN). She went back to Cameron during 2008-2011 and earned a BS in Organizational Leadership. She went on to earn a master’s degree in Leadership Science.
She fulfilled her childhood dream of becoming a nurse and worked over 43 years in the profession - five years at Comanche County Memorial Hospital and 38 years at Dun- can Regional Hospital.
Patty retired from DRH in 2018, after a career primarily dedicated to working in the area of emergency and trauma medicine. “I admired the Army nurses. Their uniforms were starched. They carried the keys and the generals minded them.”
She was the Emergency Preparedness Coordinator and Lead Cardiac Rehab Nurse. She was a member of many professional organizations and also represent- ed DRH on many boards and committees involving emergency management.
In 1979, Floyd left the funeral home business and he went to work for the Hawkins’ family business. They opened a Hawkins TV & Electronics store on Main Street in Duncan and then eventually moved the business to a location on Highway 81.
After about 35 years in business, the Winingers closed the store in 2013. “Floyd was ready to retire, and the children had their own careers and weren’t interested in taking over the store. Through the years, we weathered and out-lived some of the ‘big box’ stores, but the internet made it hard,” she said.
The Winingers have two grown children, both of whom were raised and schooled in Duncan. Their daughter Emily Callahan is the Chief Marketing and Experience Officer for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Mem- phis, Tenn. Their son, Jack Wininger, recently deceased, was in the oil and gas industry as a Texas and Oklahoma landman. Floyd and Patty have three grandchildren and two rescue wiener dogs.
Patty garnered many professional awards during her nursing career, including the Oklahoma Nurses Association’s Florence Nightingale Award for Lifetime Achievement in Community Service, the Stephens County Bar Association Liberty Bell Award for 2019 and the Betty Apple Nursing Excellence Award from Duncan Regional Hospital.
She has also served on numerous local, regional and state boards, and is a member of many community organizations such as Ability First, Duncan Chamber of Commerce and the Stephens County Humane Society.
As the Ward 3 City Councilor, she is also a member of the City of Duncan Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee. She is a graduate of Leadership Duncan Class X and was part of the charter group that brought Project Graduation to Duncan High School and Fall Fest for the Duncan Arts & Humanities Council.
Due to their long-standing commitment to community service, the Winingers have been chosen as the 2019- 2020 United Way of Stephens County honorary fundraising co-chairman for the campaign that benefits some 14 local agencies.
Patty is the author of the book, “Goodnight Duncan,” which raised over $20,000 for the Stephens County Humane Society.
She also chaired the “Cover our Kids” Committee that raised $40,000 so each child and staff member in the Dun- can Public School System would have a skateboard-type helmet for protection and safety in tornado and stormy weather. These helmets are readily available in all the schools.
The Wininger’s are members of First Baptist Church where they are involved in choir and facilitate a Bible study class at Chisholm Trail Assisted Living. Their mission work includes two trips to Guatemala and a recent trip to China.
“I love choir. I love voices,” she said. Patty is also learning to play a 34-string Celtic harp. Through a lifetime of service, Patty still has a desire and passion to do even more. “Sometimes I feel like there’s not enough time to get everything done that needs to be done. We just need more time and more money to affect more change. “It’s about quality of life. It’s about being the change you wish to see in the world,” she said.