Merlin ”Wink” Winkelman

09/15/1939 — 01/24/2004

From Prosser, WA, US | Born in Chewelah, Wahington

Merlin ”Wink” Winkelman

On January 24, 2004, Merlin ''Wink'' Winkelman, 64, of Prosser went be with his personal Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, surrounded by his loving family. Wink was born on September 15, 1939, in Chewelah, WA to Henry and Elsie Winkelman. After graduating from high school in 1957, he moved to Republic, WA where he worked to save money for college. With his former wife, Donna Mower, whom Wink married in 1961, he moved to Cheney, WA where he obtained a BS degree in Mathematics. In 1967, Wink moved to Pittsburgh, PA and started a career in Computer Software Design. In 1972, Wink and his family relocated to Richland, WA after he accepted a position with Boeing Computer Services. Wink worked there until his retirement in 1996. His active mind would not allow retirement, and he returned to work until August of 2003 for Lockheed Martin. Wink was a wonderful, caring father to his four adoring children: Rick, Randy, Ron and Lisa. From the beginning, he was always active in their lives. He was a wonderful role model and teacher of life's lessons. Wink gladly shared his wisdom with his two equally adoring stepsons, Dan and Pat Zuniga. Wink married Debra Hanson Zuniga on October 19, 1996. He then moved from Richland to Prosser. Throughout his life, Wink touched many lives through his selfless actions. For example, he balanced an elderly neighbor's checkbook, built homemade rockets for handicapped children, and served in key positions on the Prosser School District Levy Committee, even though he had no children in this district. Wink's actions were demonstrative of his personal philosophy, through my love and commitment, I will empower others to create a world where there is love, acceptance, and peace. Those who knew and loved Wink will miss him profoundly. Someone once said, ''To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.'' Wink will forever live in the hearts of all those he touched. Although he will be missed, we are forever grateful for his presence in our lives. The family owes special thanks and appreciation to the Tri-City Cancer Center, Dr. Weeks, and the 3rd floor staff at Kadlec Medical Center for the kindness and loving care they provided for Wink and his family. We gratefully acknowledge the wonderful support given by our friends and family during this difficult time. Wink is survived by his wife, Debbie; son Rick Winkelman, his wife Dawn, and grandsons Bryan and Kyle of Reno, NV; son Randy Winkelman and wife Tracie of Richland; son Ron Winkelman and wife Merilee of Reno, NV; daughter Lisa Tinkcom and husband Wes of Georgia; son Pat Zuniga and wife Jennifer of Kennewick; and son Dan Zuniga of Pullman. Wink was preceded in death by his father Henry, brother Glen, and sister Marlene. A celebration of his life will be held at 1:00 p.m., Thursday, January 29 at Central United Protestant Church in Richland, WA with a gravesdie to follow at Sunset Memorial Gardens. Viewing will be held on Wednesday, January 28, at Einan's Funeral Home from 5 to 8 p.m. In lieu of flowers, please send contributions to the Merlin J. Winkelman Scholarship Fund at any U.S. Bank.

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Merlin ”Wink” Winkelman

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  • My sympathies go to Rick, Randy, Ron and Lisa. They are the greatest children any family could ask for.

    My memories of Wink go back to when he and Donna first started dating. He wasn’t like the usual boyfriend my sister had, he always had time for Donna’s little sisters and brothers. Wink had a way of making you feel like the most special person in the world. He could also tease me like no one else could. One of my special memories of him was when I was sure I would flunk algebra, and he tutored me until I eventually got a B. Another one, is when he taught me how to drive…In his car! He had the most patience. When I was divorced in 1972 he and Donna invited Jerry, Rachael and me to stay with them in Pittsburgh until I could find work. This was when Donna had a breakdown and was in the hospital for a very long time. Wink kept working and kept not only his family going but also Jerry, Rachael and I. It was a time that I grew to know and love Wink as much as anyone else I have ever known and loved. He treated my children as his own and continued his visits to Donna daily. The toll on him at that time was tremendous. He told me once that he was a survivor…He was much more than that! There will never be a finer man than Wink and I am proud that I had the chance to know him.

    Linda Fox
    November 4, 2014
    Irrigon, OR, US
  • My sympathies go to Rick, Randy, Ron and Lisa. They are the greatest children any family could ask for.

    My memories of Wink go back to when he and Donna first started dating. He wasn’t like the usual boyfriend my sister had, he always had time for Donna’s little sisters and brothers. Wink had a way of making you feel like the most special person in the world. He could also tease me like no one else could. One of my special memories of him was when I was sure I would flunk algebra, and he tutored me until I eventually got a B. Another one, is when he taught me how to drive…In his car! He had the most patience. When I was divorced in 1972 he and Donna invited Jerry, Rachael and me to stay with them in Pittsburgh until I could find work. This was when Donna had a breakdown and was in the hospital for a very long time. Wink kept working and kept not only his family going but also Jerry, Rachael and I. It was a time that I grew to know and love Wink as much as anyone else I have ever known and loved. He treated my children as his own and continued his visits to Donna daily. The toll on him at that time was tremendous. He told me once that he was a survivor…He was much more than that! There will never be a finer man than Wink and I am proud that I had the chance to know him.

    Linda Fox
    November 4, 2014
    Irrigon, OR, US
  • My condolences to the family of Wink. He was my manager years ago on the Hanford Site and we are less without him.

    One thing I will always remember of him was he was always struggling at that time with the constant management meetings and trying to do real work at the same time. He tried for a long time and finally succeeded in leaving management to be able to do his work. Even then the company tried for a long time to entice him back into management – that was how much they needed him. That did teach me that managers are people too and struggle with many of the same issues as the rest of us.

    Wink – we will miss you.

    Dick Hart
    November 4, 2014
    Pasco, WA, US
  • Wink led by example. He was a mentor and leader to many of us. His knowledge, common sense, and ability to manage projects were phenomenal. He brought a touch of reality to the CMMI project which became a priceless role. Wink demonstrated a real concern for people and an unmatched knowledge of the IT business. Wink’s legacy will live on by what he imparted to each of us and he will always be in our hearts.

    Melody Kendall
    November 4, 2014
    Pasco, WA, US
  • I knew Wink best during the 70’s & early 80’s when our families lived just two blocks apart. Wink’s son Rick and our son Reed were and still are good friends. I found Wink to be a very caring and loving father as well as a loyal and trustworthy friend. He was a mentor to kids of all ages and always had time to help someone no matter how busy he was. He projected a positive outlook on life with his cheerful disposition and winning smile. He was truly and “all-around good guy” who will be missed by all who knew and loved him.

    I would like to express my deepest sympathy to his family. You are in my prayers and may God’s love comfort you now and always.

    With love and respect,

    Kay Bergam

    Kay Bergam
    November 4, 2014
    Richland, WA, US
  • My interactions with Wink were limited to the numerous hours working on the Prosser Schools

    M&O Committee for the last three campaigns, the Facilities Committee and school board

    meetings. Wink was a devoted and valuable member of both the M&O and Facilities committees.

    I appreciate Winks commitment to understanding the issues and expressing his thoughts. Wink’s

    organization and analytical skills were very valuable for the M&O campaign committee. Wink

    spent a significant amount of his time managing the M&O campaign data for which all of the

    members of the M&O committees are extremely appreciative. In spite of Wink’s illness he rarely

    missed an M&O meeting and single handedly managed the data, regardless of his condition. Wink

    had an amazing resolve to continue on with life. Wink always had a upbeat take on his progress

    and life. I applaud Wink’s willingness to commit his time and efforts to serving the students and

    the citizen’s of Prosser. Wink’s presence will be sincerely missed.

    Larry Mayfield
    November 4, 2014
    Prosser, WA, US
  • Dear Randy and Family:

    We are very sorry to know the passing away of your beloved dad, husband, father-in-law, and grandpa. Please accept our deepest condolences and thoughts on this irreplaceable loss to the family. May God give you all the courage to bear this grief and loss and carry on Wink’s legacy of sharing and giving and memories, forever!

    May Wink’s soul rest in peace in Heaven!

    Sincerely,

    Tom and Sandy Hundal

    Richland, WA

    Tom and Sandy Hundal
    November 4, 2014
    Richland, WA, US
  • Wink will be missed dearly. He worked to address the needs of both teachers and students. Thanks for your hard work.

    Marci Manley
    November 4, 2014
    Benton, city, WA, US
  • “Ten years from now, nobody will remember the score of the game. Everyone will remember what you are made out of.” Mostly I remember times in the office when we would pass jokes back and forth. I don’t remember any of the jokes, but Wink was made of the good stuff. He will be missed.

    David Langford
    November 4, 2014
    Richland, WA, US
  • I have extremely fond memories of Wink. He helped me when I started in software development back in 1973. He was caring person always looking out for others. I remember that he gave his vacation to help others in need and saved the life of a lady who nearly drowned during a river rafting mishap. I will always remember Wink as a mentor, friend, and role model for those of us fortunate enough to have interacted with him. This is a time of deep sadness, but I believe we all feel that Wink has gone on to a better place.

    Fred Mangan

    Fred Mangan
    November 4, 2014
    Richland, WA, US
  • With great sympathy of a wonderful uncle whom I was very close to in my childhood days and memories of looking forward to going to Richland just to see them uncle wink would always do things with us,teach us new things and I always remember thinking that he was so smart. my fondest memories were when uncle wink would give all of us kids money and we would get to walk down to seven-eleven and get us each a icee, I always looked forward to that time when we would go to Richland because we never had icees in Prienville, so it was a big treat for us to get to go. Uncle Wink was a very special person in my life and I will always remember him for being an influence on me , I will miss him greatly. Love and Prayers Kathy Mower Marple

    Kathy mower Marple
    November 4, 2014
    Norman, OK, US
  • It is so true that all of us who loved Wink will miss him terribly. He was a very special, generous, wise man. Remember the song, “To Know Him Is to Love Him”? That was Wink. He indeed touched many lives. I am thankful for the time I spent with him; he taught me a great deal. My heart goes out especially to Debbie and to his adult children and their families. Know that you are in my prayers.

    Love from Nancy

    Nancy Ostergaard
    November 4, 2014
    Kennewick, WA, US
  • Working with Wink has been a treat, and I will miss him, and his smile. He cared about everyone and Wink was always the first to help out for any occasion.

    Denise Bryant
    November 4, 2014
    Richland, WA, US
  • Uncle Wink was one of the nicest guys you could ever meet. Like Kathy, I would always look forward to going to Richland to see the Winkelman’s or them visiting us. Wink was very intelligent and he always intrigued me because he would always talk to me like I was an adult. He was truly a great person and one of my favorite uncles. I will miss him a lot. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

    Tim Mower
    November 4, 2014
    Oklahoma, City, OK, US
  • Wink’s friendly smile will be missed forever.

    Susie Si
    November 4, 2014
    Richland, WA, US
  • I had the great opportunity to work side-by-side with Wink for many years, starting with the LABCORE project in the early 1990s until his retirement in 1996. We worked together again on the VSIS project in 1999, preparing it for the great year 2000 rollover. When Wink joined the Lockheed staff we even shared the same office. I always looked forward to talking with him every day about our projects and families. He taught me the correct practices for software development by doing them. Success spoke louder than all the words one could read.

    He always had time to help no matter how busy he might be. We often joked about how much food it took when we had something to write which happened every day. We drank coffee and cocoa, and munched on cookies, peanuts, candy bars, and licorice. Occasionally we even ate something healthy. We teased each other about naming projects with such acronyms as MRBS, MMCS, and EUFEDMS, and how we had to teach others how to pronounce them. I would tell him a story about what one of my kids did, and he’d come back with one about his.

    Wink loved his wife Debbie and all of his children very much.

    I miss him very much.

    Tom Ibsen
    November 4, 2014
    Richland, WA, US
  • I’ve known Wink since 5th grade when he coached Rick’s BB&M Little League team. As an opposing coach I was afraid of him. In 7th grade, Rick and I became teammates for the next four years. My fear soon dissipated because Wink was always quick with a kind word of encouragement.

    Working with him the last few years was a joy and he will be greatly missed. His memory will be cherished.

    Kevin Linn
    November 4, 2014
    Richland, WA, US
  • I’ve had many wonderful moments with Wink discussing work related items and visions for community. He always had time to chat and share experiences. Despite many challenges, his life was positve encouragment to all who had the pleasure to know him.

    Gary Troyer
    November 4, 2014
    Richland, WA, US
  • Wink was one of the few people that helped me feel welcome when I first started at Lockheed. I did not work with him but he was that very kind and cheerful man that I would cross paths with in the kitchen now and then. His friendly smile and forever positive attitude make him a person remembered and missed even by those of us who did not work directly with him.

    Mary Bishop
    November 4, 2014
    Pasco, WA, US
  • I never really got the opportunity to work directly with Wink, but he was one of those special people that brightened every room he entered. He and I would pass each other in the hallway several times a day and he always offered a friendly smile and a cheerful hello. Lockheed was a brighter place with Wink around. He will be missed by us all.

    Carol Walker
    November 4, 2014
    Richland, WA, US
  • In 1972 the Winkelmans moved close to where we lived and Rick and I soon became best friends. Through the years our dads also became great friends. The thing I remember most about Mr. Winkelman was that whenever I was around him I felt completely at ease, like I was part of the family. He was a great man, an incredible father, and he will be missed by everyone who had the pleasure of knowing him. My heart goes out to his family.

    Reed Bergam
    November 4, 2014
    Kennewick, WA, US
  • “Wink”, I will miss you, your smile, cheerful attitude and the little tune you always whistled. Your honesty, integrity and straight forward logical approach are traits I will always fondly recall.

    I will always remember too, the love you had for your family and friends.

    Thanks “Wink”

    Frank Kendall
    November 4, 2014
    Pasco, WA, US
  • I am very sorry to hear about his passing. My prayers are with you and your family. He always had a supply of red licorice to share. He teased me about eating them.

    God Bless

    Debbie Shatwell
    November 4, 2014
    Gilbert, AZ, US
  • Wink will be missed more than tongue can tell..

    William J. Jones
    November 4, 2014
    Richland, WA, US
  • I knew Wink best back in the late 1970’s when my son played baseball with his oldest son Rick in Pony & Colt Leagues as well as all the years in the Bomber baseball program. I don’t think Wink ever missed one of Rick’s baseball games or most likely any of his other son’s games. He was one of the “good parents” in attendance that never got riled up at umpires or opposing teams; he always gave his son positive encouragement and was an excellent father. My deepest sympathy goes out to the Winkelman children.

    Earl Davis
    November 4, 2014
    Kennewick, WA, US
  • My memories of Wink go way back. When I came to Hanford in 1974 he was one of my first teachers, back in the old Cyber days. During my career at Hanford, Wink’s and my paths crossed many times, and I remember him as a cordial, decent, hard working fellow, a pleasant person to deal with.

    We both “retired” on the same day and I moved with Boeing to the Everett area to continue working. Later I learned that Wink’s retirement was much like mine, only he stayed to work at Hanford.

    Hearing of his death has made this a sad day.

    John Schur
    November 4, 2014
    Bothell, WA, US
  • Wink was a great guy to work with. I will miss him.

    Ray Law
    November 4, 2014
    Pasco, WA, US
  • As a secretary for many years with Boeing, I recall how kind and courteous Wink always was to everyone. I also recall, during employee activities, how courteous his children were. God bless them all.

    Barbara Brackenbush
    November 4, 2014
    Richland, WA, US
  • Ron and Loretta Hanson
    November 4, 2014
    Kennewick, WA, US
  • Coach “Wink” was a terrific guy and great little league coach. My son Jimmy Jr. and his oldest son Rick played little league way back in 1971 as 9 year olds where Wink was the coach. The kids loved him; Wink taught sportsmanship, respect for the game and each other, and knew baseball very very well. He even was league president, and discreetly kicked in some of his own money to help defray league costs. He was one in a million. God bless his family.

    James Jones
    November 4, 2014
    Harrison, City, PA, US
  • Uncle Wink was one of the greatest uncles I’ve ever had. We was a fun,loving and caring person. He paid attention to everyone no matter who you were. I remember thinking to myself “Boy! Uncle Wink is so smart I wish I could be just half that smart when I grow up.” My family and I would go up to Richland on numerous occasions and I couldn’t wait to get there, all of us kids would say “Are we there yet?” We had so much fun. Uncle Wink would play games with us and go to the movies, not to mention he would physically play football with us kids outside. He would give all of us kids money so we could go to the 7-11 store and buy an icee slurpee. My siblings and I never knew what one was until we went there. I will always cherish the memories

    that I have of Uncle Wink and keep them close to my heart. Uncle Wink will be greatly missed by all. My thoughts and prayers are with you. God bless all of you.

    All of my Love,

    Lori Arnott Mower

    Lori Arnott Mower
    November 4, 2014
    Prineville, OR, US
  • I was so very sorry to hear of Merlin’s death. He was my first cousin although 13 years younger. I played with his brother, Edward, racing our horses bareback!

    Cousin Don Andersen

    Donald K. Andersen
    November 4, 2014
    Aurora, CO, US
  • I was very saddened to return to work to find that Wink had passed away. I know the news had not been good recently, but I did not realize how bad it was.

    One of my fondest, and most humerous, memories of Wink is his having a lifesize copy of the Electrical Utility BPA billing spreadsheet stretched across his office, trying to track information from point to point. His visible frustration, mumbling and almost cursing in that process was funny and endearing. He did his work well, never willing to do a half-baked job. I enjoyed working with Wink and will miss him.

    Kathy Mathison
    November 4, 2014
    Yakima, WA, US
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