Robert F. “Bob” Winne, 88, died peacefully at home with his family in Amherst, Mass., on April 22, 2013.
He was born on Dec. 27, 1924, in Brockport, N.Y. Shortly after graduating from high school, Bob was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943 and served in the 75th Infantry Division, 289th Infantry Regiment. He spent his 19th birthday in full combat in the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes in Belgium. His shooting accuracy lead him to be selected as a sniper, but he was then given a Browning Automatic Rifle as point man for his unit. The inexperienced division was thrust straight into combat in what is widely acknowledged to have been the toughest fight encountered in the whole of World War II, described by Churchill as “undoubtedly the greatest American battle of the war, and will be regarded as an ever famous American victory.” Of his platoon of 40 men, Bob was the only man to survive.
At the close of the war, Bob was stationed in France to supervise frontline POW German officers, then took charge of a Post Exchange and Commissary.
Bob rarely spoke of his time in combat until his later years.
On his return home, he was accepted into Julliard School of Music, but instead Bob chose to study architecture under the G.I. Bill, graduating from the School of Architecture at Rensellaer Polytechnic Institute in 1949. After working as an architect for a few years, he earned a masters of art in 1960, later becoming a professor of architecture at RPI and Pennsylvania State University, with appointments at Columbia University and Barnard College.
Throughout his life and in his retirement, Bob had many varied interests. He was a gifted photographer, and in the numerous summers that he spent in Homer with his son Tom, he captured familiar scenes in surprising and intriguing ways. He was an accomplished musician, furniture and cabinet maker, taught wilderness and survival skills, and his lifelong love of art lead him to teach history of art on a voluntary basis.
“He was exceptionally gentle, kind and generous,” his family said. “A man of exceptional integrity, he will be deeply missed.”
He is survived by his wife, Patricia Holland; his son Clark “Tom” Thompson Winne and his wife Victoria of Homer; his daughter Elizabeth Winne; and he leaves his four grandchildren who grew up in Homer: Holland Hill, his wife Breanna and their children Goldie, Ruby Sue and Bryan; Vanessa Fefelov, her husband Alex and their children Alivia and Julian; Amon Winne; and Llosh Winne.