Mike Winckler, 72

Mike Winckler, 72, of Winner, SD passed away on Saturday, June 8, 2019 at the Winner Regional Healthcare Facility in Winner, SD.
Funeral service was held on Friday, June 14, 2019 at 2 p.m. at the United Methodist Church in Winner, SD. Burial followed in the Winner City Cemetery.

Myron Mark (“Big Mike”) Winckler was born on March 7, 1947, to Hubert and Edna (Fischer) Winckler, in Scotland, South Dakota. He was the third of nine children born to the Winckler family – who farmed near Tyndall. He learned to plow at the age of eight – helping the family do the work that needed to be done.

Mike was proud to share that he was top of the class in most, if not all, of his elementary school years – however, he was the only student in the class. He attended rural schools through 8th grade and then attended high school in Tyndall, South Dakota, graduating in 1965.

He entered the Army in January of 1966 for a total of three years – which included a one-year tour in Vietnam. In basic training, he was at the top of his class, athletically, of over 20,000.

Upon his honorable discharge, he utilized the GI bill to enroll in Southern State College in Springfield, South Dakota – at which he played football as the star kicker “Golden Toe”. With a major in physical education and a minor in psychology, he became the first in his family to graduate with a bachelor’s degree.

While in transition between the Army and college, he made the best decision of his life, to ask Barbara Jean Bambas to marry him. They were engaged in February of 1969 and married on July 24, 1969 –almost 50 years. They danced beautifully – at weddings and other events – and ultimately, through life. To this union, two children were born – Alicia Jean in 1972 and Mark Raymond in 1978.

Shortly after graduation, Mike and Barb moved to Colome, where Mike began his career as a teacher and coach. A few years later, they moved to the big city – Winner. From there, he had a diverse career – spending the bulk of his time in two different roles – Owner, Manager of the old Husky House Café- and in a role helping others gain employment – first through the Job Service and then via Green Thumb and Experience Works – with a few other positions in between.

Mike believed that you worked to live, not lived to work – as such, he was a stellar role model. He had many passions outside of work – most of them revolved around socializing with others, enjoying the outdoors, and demonstrating reliably how to tell a great story. Although the basis for them was almost always true – he just remembered them bigger than most.

Mike loved Winner sports – and he loved joining his good friend announcing high school football games. He just knew that his specialty of color commentary was among the best in the nation – and that ESPN would be calling soon.

Many an hour was spent card playing and then after – solving the world’s problems while highlighting how very few of his card playing buddies (and especially his best friends and family) knew how to play correctly. At Dick’s, he was very proud of the self-proclaimed and friend-awarded role that he held as “Chairman of the Board”.

In his younger days, he absolutely loved fast pitch softball and then, later, slow pitch softball. For the historians, he was on the Roy’s Bar team (from Tyndall), Conkling Distributing (from Yankton), and the Burke Buzzards. Back in the day, these were elite teams…and Big Mike loved to talk about it. Slow pitch came later – with the best part being the beers with friends following.

But, his true passions were hunting and fishing. Mike loved the challenge of the hunt – deer, pheasant, duck, geese, and grouse. And, he was a terrific guide – taking hundreds of hunters to his secret and most productive spots and showing them a great time – and many became his friends. He was a very good shot – in fact, the birds couldn’t get away. Sometimes, when he was impatient or frustrated with others, he might even sneak in a shot and help them believe that they succeeded in getting the bird.

He loved fishing – his psychological healing. Buying a boat was a big deal. Walleyes were afraid of him. He had several proud angler awards – and had proof – the certificates hanging is his gun room.

Something many didn’t know – he always helped people – whether as a volunteer firefighter in his younger years, by giving out fish and wild game that he acquired and cleaned to those in-need, or by slipping a person some financial support, quietly.

Mike never met a stranger – whether or not he knew anyone when he arrived at an establishment, he always left with friends. Mike was described as the “life of the party”, a “great storyteller”, and a “great friend”. Many of his closest friends felt as he wanted them to – like family. Now, that didn’t always mean that conversations were joyful, but they were real. He never missed an opportunity to share his perspective and make his opinion clear – especially if he thought one of his friends could do more or better.

Mike loved his family. He held very high expectations for his children and beamed with pride when they met them.

He is survived by his wife of almost 50 years, Barbara Jean (Bambas) Winckler, his daughter Alicia Jean and her son, Lucas Edward, Lucas’ father Gary Hansen; his son, Mark Raymond, wife Melissa (Grossenburg), and their three children, Norah Blanche, Jacob Marcus, and Sullivan Charles; and Mike’s siblings – Norma (Bob) Bender, JoeWayne (Elaine) Winckler, Arla (Vern) Dangel, Jarvis (Marilyn) Winckler, David (Sue) Winckler, Merlin (Lisa) Winckler, and Larry (Barbie) Winckler; and special cousins Jerry (Jan) Winckler.

After a long illness and one hell of a fight, Mike passed away on June 8, 2019. He was preceded in death by his parents, Hubert and Edna Winckler, an infant brother, Leland Dale, several of his best friends, and many uncles, aunts, cousins and his in-laws, Raymond Bambas and Genevieve “Jenny” (Wysuph) Bambas.

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