When remembering Clarenville High teacher Carl Winter, friends, colleagues and students alike note often you would hear him before you saw him.
Meaning, Mr. Winter was well-known to be perpetually whistling or singing as he went about his day.
In fact, colleague and friend Bert Roberts says Winter’s whistling was perhaps what he missed most this past year.
“The happiest man in the world!” exclaimed Roberts.
Winter was a force of positivity that exuded from him for all to see – and hear.
When Winter passed away Saturday, June 8, his effect on the community was also well-voiced. Tributes poured in for the man who was a consummate volunteer, appreciated teacher, celebrated musician and generous individual.
Whether they were students of his, colleagues, family or close friends, Winter had a profound impact on their lives.
Fellow teachers at Clarenville High, Bert Roberts and John Russell, were among the friends closest to Winter. They taught together at the school for decades up until Winter’s retirement last June. Roberts joked they were often, perhaps self-referentially, known as “The Three Stooges.”
“If you got one, you got three of us,” laughed Roberts.
But as the two men delved into what Winter meant to them and others in an interview with The Packet, it was clear he had an impact on their lives.
Roberts says their close friendship stemmed from an “unwillingness to let each other down.”
In fact, Russell says he knew what a special friend he had in Winter right away. Upon becoming a teacher in Clarenville years ago, Winter – who is originally from Gander – was one of the first to show up to help him move, even though they had only recently became friends.
“He was the salt of the Earth,” said Roberts. “A gentleman.”
A large part of their lives was music. They called Winter a brilliant musician who was also very humble about his talents.
Roberts was part of the band “Slainte” with Winter, and while Russell also played with that group on occasion; he was also part of the band “Dis is It” with Winter.
“He was a pleasure to play with.”
And Winter’s time as a teacher was perhaps where he had the most effect on others.
“The kids loved him,” remembered Russell. “Carl had a real calmness about him. He rarely got worked up about anything. He had a wonderful sense of humour and he had a way with kids where he got things done and laughed with them at the same time.
“They loved him.”
An influence to many students
Shayna Veitch, now 21, had Mr. Winter as a homeroom teacher for Grades 10 through 12.
She told The Packet he was consistently kind, witty and thoughtful – every day.
“He (always had) a laugh or a joke and he was very insightful. There was always a debate or a good conversation going on,” she says.
Veitch recounted a particular story which left a lasting impression on her in high school.
She says, one day, in Grade 10 homeroom she joked to Mr. Winter she wanted a poster on his wall of Albert Einstein.
It read: “Don’t worry too much about your difficulties in mathematics, I can assure you that mine are still greater.”
Veitch had been struggling in math, not one of her strongest subjects. Mr. Winter promised to give her the poster upon her graduation day in three years.
“Throughout my three years there he knew I struggled with math every day, so he saved this poster in his desk for me until my last day of Grade 12,” remembers Veitch.
Sure enough, when she had finished high school, Mr. Winter had remembered and presented her with her prize.
“It was more important to me than my diploma.
“His kindness inspires me. I think this alone says what kind of man he was and shows even just a little the way he touched the lives of so many.”
A lasting impact on the community
Winter's impact will also be felt in the plethora of activities he involved himself in. He was quick to volunteer and was selfless with his time.
He was a part of the school’s robotics and model boat team, he volunteered for musical events both with the school and his church, the United Church’s men’s group, he was the worshipful master for the Masons, even part of a ukulele club he started.
The three friends also volunteered in putting off the graduation at the school each year.
“If you knew Carl was doing it, it was going to be done well,” says Russell.
“He was sensational at everything he did,” added Roberts.
But none of his activities were done for recognition. Roberts called Winter “unassuming and laid back.”
He had great talents in music, electronics, woodworking and more, but he was happier to contribute to others through collaboration and guidance than to recognize himself.
“You hear people throw around the word, ‘humanitarian,’” says Roberts.
“If there was a cause that needed somebody to help them, with the church, with the school, with children needing someone to accompany them at a music concert, to someone needing that extra bit of help, Carl did it unselfishly and without hesitation and loved it!”
Russell says, “that old cliché about leaving the planet a better place? There’s no one that applies better than to Carl. The community is a better place because of him.”