On Tuesday, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) hosted a celebration of the lives of Governor William Winter and First Lady Elise Winter at the Two Mississippi Museums.
Winter held numerous positions in office throughout his political career including Governor of Mississippi from 1980 to 1984, State Tax Collector, State Treasurer, and Lieutenant Governor as well as serving on President Bill Clinton’s National Advisory Board on Race.
During his time in office, Winter made continuous efforts to better education across Mississippi through the passing of the Education Reform Act of 1982 and pushing for the creation of the Two Mississippi Museums by procuring funding until its opening in 2017.
Elise Winter was also seen as an advocate for Mississippians as she fought for improved living conditions for imprisoned individuals, helped construct 600 homes in the Jackson metro area through Habitat for Humanity, and more.
To read more about the impact the Winters had in Mississippi throughout their lifetime, continue reading here.
At the beginning of the ceremony, MDAH board president Spence Flatgard announced that the initial goal of raising $5 million for the William and Elise Winter Education Endowment was complete. The endowment serves to provide funds for field trips to the Two Mississippi Museums, furthering the Winter’s legacy in prioritizing education.
“The purpose of this endowment is to ensure that all Mississippi students have the opportunity to experience the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum,” said MDAH director Katie Blount. “We are grateful to the many supporters who gave to this effort, which was spearheaded by Governor and Mrs. Winter. We are especially grateful to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, which stepped up first with a generous gift. We are committed to continuing to build the William and Elise Winter Education Endowment, which will make a tremendous impact on future generations to come.”
Multiple speakers spoke on the lives of both the Governor and First Lady at the event including former President Bill Clinton, former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, and former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Reuben Anderson.
President Clinton recalled his relationship with the Winters, calling them “highly intelligent, highly energetic, openly ambitious, and as good as gold” before recounting one of William Winter’s speeches.
“All I know is that from the minute I met Bill Winter, I never had a scintilla of doubt that whatever happened in our friendship, whatever happened in his life, I was with one of the most authentic people I would ever know,” Clinton explained. “He was who he seemed to be.”
The former president also brought one of his mementos from the Winter’s time in office, showing a small yellow container with the inscription “In this limited edition of 100, the number of this box is 10.”
Clinton explained that his family has kept the box in their living room after receiving it 38 years ago, saying that it served as a reminder of the passage of time through the years.
“I marked the passage of our life with this because I was so blessed to know a person who was truly good, truly great, and truly fun,” Clinton detailed.
To hear more about the impact the Winters had on the state and nation, continue watching below.