Don Winkler, 90, Groves


Last updated 2/13/2024 at 4:23pm

Don Winkler, 90, of Groves, Texas passed away on February 1, 2024, at Brookdale Dowlen Oaks in Beaumont, Texas.

A graveside funeral service will be held on Sunday, February 25, 2024, at 1:00 p.m. at Oak Bluff Memorial Park in Port Neches, Texas.

He was preceded in death by his brother, R.C. Winkler; and his sisters, Naomi Hinds, Mary Green, Bernice Whitehead, and Cricket Gwen.

He is survived by his son, Howard Winkler and wife, Angel; his daughters, Cindy Norris and partner, Stefan, Debbie Knowles and husband, Red, and Cathy Buchanan; his grandchildren, Brooke Conoly and husband, Scott, Danielle Sons and husband, Patrick, Rikki Vanya and husband, Jase, Lance Norris and wife, Mandy, Lacey Norris, Amy Ryan and husband, Matt, Justin Knowles and wife, Cassie, Zach Knowles and wife, Jessica, Travis Buchanan, Taylor Miguez and husband, Brandon, and Trent Buchanan, as well as numerous great grandchildren.

Born in Marlow, Oklahoma on April 10, 1933, he was the son of Roscoe and Ethel Winkler. Don’s family moved to Texas shortly after he was born. His father died when he was 2, followed by his mother when he was 7. He was raised in the Odd Fellows Orphanage in Corsicana, Texas. Don left at 19 after graduating High School and went on to find a job laying crude oil pipe for a year, before deciding to enlist in the United States Marine Corps. This defined the rest of his life. After completing his hitch with the Marines, Don attended Tarlton State College in Stephenville, Texas. He then finished his bachelor’s degree in business at North Texas State in Denton, Texas. Don was working in the insurance industry when he re-enlisted in the Marine Corps as a Reserve. He remained in the Marine Corps Reserve for the vast part of his remaining life, retiring with the rank of Lt. Colonel. Following the 9/11 attacks in 2001, Don contacted the Marine Corps, asking to return to duty. Though he was persistent in defending his country, they declined. Don left the insurance industry in the 1960’s, joining the newly created Federal Sky Marshals program. After several years, he was hired as a special agent for U.S. Customs. Don worked smuggling cases, primarily drugs in the early years, then progressing into illegal weapons and arms. He worked undercover, sometimes stretching out over a year. Don retired from federal service in 1984. He and his wife, Nell, then moved to Groves, Texas where they went to work for her cousin, Bruce Thompson, at Market Basket. There, Don created a comprehensive loss prevention department. Don and Nell remained in the same house they’d originally purchased in Groves until it became necessary for both to move to assisted living facilities. Don’s beloved Nell preceded him in death in 2019. His legacy will live on through those who love him and he will be missed terribly.


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