Community mourns passing of Bill Winegard

GUELPH – Guelph and Wellington County have lost a beloved veteran and volunteer with the passing of Dr. William Winegard.

Known to most simply as “Bill”, Winegard died on Jan. 31 at the age of 94.

“Guelph and Wellington County have lost a great leader … Bill Winegard served his community and country on many fronts,” said Wellington-Halton Hills MP Michael Chong in an online statement.

“Bill was a mentor to me, and I valued his advice. He was a beloved teacher and friend to many others.”

Winegard served as an officer in the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War. He came to the Univer­sity of Guelph three years after its founding in 1964 and served as president until 1975.

“Bill Winegard played a pivotal role in helping U of G become the institution that it is today,” stated university president Franco Vaccarino in a press release.

“Bill embodied the values that still help to guide this university: volunteerism, community engagement, leadership.”

Winegard was elected MP of Guelph in 1984 and re-elected in 1988 in the riding of Guelph-Wellington. He was Minister for Science for Prime Minister Brian Mulroney from 1990 to 1993.

In 1998, Winegard was made an Officer of the Order of Canada and in 2014 he received the Lincoln Alexander Outstanding Leader Award from the University of Guelph.

“Both awards are recognition of his contributions to Guelph, Wellington County, and to Canada,” said Chong.

In 2007, in cooperation with United Way and the Volunteer Centre of Guelph-Wellington, the University of Guelph established the Dr. William Winegard exemplary volunteer involvement awards.

A founding member of the Guelph Community Foundation, Winegard was also a recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and in 2014 had a new public school in the east end of Guelph named after him.

Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie said local citizens are grateful for Winegard’s service to his community.

“Bill was extraordinary not just for what he accomplished, but how he did it,” Guthrie stated.

“He was a generous volunteer throughout his life, a mentor to many, and a statesman through and through.”

As a veteran, Winegard was a fixture at local Remembrance Day ceremonies and he became an advocate for veterans’ rights.

His philosophy on life was perhaps summed up best in his parting remarks during a 2011 veterans’ presentation at a Guelph high school.

“We are all our brother’s keeper,” he told the students.

“That’s what it means to be Canadian – to be our brother’s keeper, and when people need us, we’ll always be there.”

Winegard is survived by  two sons, Bill and Charles, plus several grandchildren. He was predeceased by his wife Elizabeth in 2005 and his daughter Kathryn in 1999.

Funeral arrangements were not known by press time.