December 16, 1941 – January 29, 2021
Jerry Winkle, 79, of La Grande, died Friday, January 29, 2021, surrounded by his family. A traditional funeral service was held on February 6, 2021, at the Summerville Baptist Church. Interment was held at Grandview Cemetery in La Grande.
Jerry was born on December 16, 1941, to parents Houston Arthur and Mattie Jurhee (Clowdus) Winkle in Ardmore, Oklahoma. They moved to Odessa, Texas, where his father worked in the oil fields as a welder. He went all through school there and was in the first graduating class at Permian High School, the same school featured in the football movie “Friday Night Lights.” He was a good student and according to his sister was first in everything he did. Jerry was a band captain, student council president, first chair trumpet and who knows what else. At age 9, polio withered the muscles in his right leg and ended any hopes of a career in baseball, but his father filled the void by introducing him to two new life-altering crafts: leather tools and a ham radio. He mastered both of those and completed a barber course while in high school. Jerry earned a full music scholarship to college, but when his father became ill he quit and went home to help take care of the family. Jerry applied for a job in the engineering department at a local TV station with the stipulation that he repair certain equipment as a test and started a career as an electronics engineer. He eventually was chief engineer of KOSA TV in Lubbock, Texas.
Jerry was divorced with a son when he first came to La Grande, Ortegon. He was on a hunting trip when he met Faye Wright Zurbrick, a widow with two young sons of her own. They were married on May 21, 1973, after a seven-month telephone courtship. He traded his sports car for a Chevy station wagon and moved them all to Texas. His heart belonged to Oregon, however, and when the TV station sold he took his severance pay and returned to La Grande. He started his own business, “Advanced Electronics,” a TV sales and service shop and later added Radio Shack. After 23 years he sold the store and took a job with ODOT as a radio technician where he did everything from installing two-way radios to maintaining microwave sites on various mountaintops throughout Eastern Oregon until he retired in 2006. He loved to tell about the harrowing adventures in the snow cat and being plucked off the top of a mountain by helicopter in a snowstorm after a mishap.
Jerry was a key member of bringing KMBI a Christian radio station in Spokane Washington, to La Grande by microwave to a site on Mt. Fanny and maintained the broadcast equipment for over 30 years. He also worked for the Union County airport on the non-directional beacon. After going through some intense training in Texas recently, he was instrumental in updating equipment, bringing it up to standard. He was constantly repairing electronics or leather articles and installing antennas for people and loved the challenge.
In 1978 Jerry and Faye had a daughter who eventually got into horses and “spurred” his interest in making saddles, along with countless other pieces of tack and leather masterpieces that he made for family and friends. He loved being outdoors hunting and fishing. Jerry was an “elkaholic” and lived for hunting season. He hunted 24/7 and took his body with him twice a year. Another hobby he enjoyed was shooting at black powder rendezvous dressed up in his hand made buckskins along with the other mountain men and gals.
Jerry’s greatest love, however, was to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. He served Him faithfully most of his adult life while he was a member of First Baptist Church in La Grande and currently Summerville Baptist Church in Summerville, Oregon, and was a witness right up to the end of his battle with lung cancer on January 29, 2021. He had a tender heart, a gentle spirit and a desire to please and assist anyone, anytime.
Jerry is survived by his wife of 48 years, Faye Winkle of La Grande; daughter, Amanda (Ross) Arnold of La Grande; sons, Shawn (Joy) Zurbrick of Dallas Texas, Brett Houston Winkle of Los Angeles, California, and Steve and Andie Zurbrick of Pasco, Washington; sisters, Beverly Winkle of La Grande, Oregon, and Leeta Vest of Blanchard, Oklahoma; six grandchildren and two great-grandsons; and three nephews and one niece.
For those who would like to make a donation in memory of Jerry, the family suggests the Summerville Church Missions Fund through Tami’s Pine Valley Funeral Home and Cremation Services, PO Box 543, Halfway, Oregon 97834.
Online condolences can be shared at www.tamispinevalleyfuneralhome.com.