Photo Courtesy of the University of Mississippi (By Nathan Latil)
Former Mississippi Governor and leader of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History William Winter has passed away at the age of 97.
Serving as the state’s 58th governor from 1980-1984, the Grenada native is remembered mostly for the Education Reform Act of 1982, which is widely considered the most significant piece of education legislation since the establishment of the state’s public school system in 1870.
Joining the MDAH board in 1957 and serving as president for almost four decades, Winter’s greatest legacy, according to the department, was convincing state leaders of the need to open the Two Mississippi Museums in 2017. He was also instrumental in attaining the necessary funds to go on with the project.
“These museums stand at the intersection of William Winter’s greatest passions—history, education, and racial justice,” MDAH Director Katie Blount said. “Generations of young people will come here to experience the stories that have shaped our state and nation.”
During the opening ceremony of the museums, Winter said, “These museums will challenge all of us to have a better understanding of where we have come from, and then inspire us to work harder to find our common ideals and goals. We will find that we have much more in common than what might appear to divide us.”
Winter also oversaw the opening of the Eudora Welty House, the restoration of the Old Capitol, and the construction of the current archives building, which fittingly bears his name.
William Winter was not only a fighter for the state of Mississippi but a fighter for all of humanity. He will be forever missed.