HISTORY OF DAVID WINN
Recently I attended the memorial service of David Winn, a good friend and a great man. I started out as a patient of his dental practice almost 20 years ago, but we quickly became friends, sharing many common interests. Our conversations were stimulating and he had a sly sense of humor. We shared lots of laughs. Our relationship was deeper than casual: I built his business’ first website; he took me on his family vacation to Lake Powell, a place he loved to share with his friends and family.
Whenever I visited him at his practice we talked about things widely and deeply. David possessed a unique ability to express things with a precision of language that was both economical and illuminating. I’d often listen to him in the next chair over, talking to a patient and explaining his diagnosis and proposed course of treatment. He was patient, precise and carefully explored options. But he was compassionate as well. Some had suffered under the poorly advised procedures of others and now needed big help. He’d call his patients at night after he had done a significant procedure to check up on them and help them if there were any after effects.
An early adopter of many technologies, we’d often talk about the latest gadgets from Apple. But he distinguished himself as a pioneer in his field as the “Laser Doc.” He was years ahead of others in the practice of dentistry, who would seek his consultation, by using lasers for both hard and soft tissues. Last time I counted he was using five different kinds of lasers from drilling out cavities to healing deep tissues.
David thought about many topics from motorcycles to martial arts. Thinking was something he did ceaselessly. With his son Christopher he shared four things at the end of his live that he hoped would influence others and affect their thought life.
- Live in joy daily
- Don’t be afraid, just keep going
- Gratitude as both an attitude to be taken and as a defense
- We Winn
The son of a military man, David knew what it meant to serve his country. His father was the late General David Winn I whose memorial we celebrated five years ago and described here. When David was a freshman at Princeton he and his roommate traveled down to Washington D.C. to greet his father when he had returned after being a POW in Vietnam for almost 5 years at the infamous Hanoi Hilton. David was proud of his father and honored him in his conversation about him. After graduating from Princeton with a degree in engineering, David studied at Case Western Reserve Dental School and entered the Navy, but later served in the Air Force Reserves. This made him particularly conflicted when we attended Air Force/Navy football games at the local Air Force Academy here in Colorado Springs. I’d see him wear the colors of both 🙂
He instilled a respect for military service in his children. His first son Christopher entered the Marines and is deployed as an Infantry Major in Asia. The day after 9/11 his son Alexander enlisted in the Air Force where he now flies F-16s as a Major. His daughter Jennifer enlisted in the Navy. Summers on Lake Powell would see David teaching her how to pilot a large houseboat and it uniquely prepared her to enter the service. Alexander and Jennifer are married to military officers.
David had military honors at his memorial, first with an honor guard who stood in the lobby of Village Seven Presbyterian Church holding flags. These were the Patriot Guard Riders, motorcyclists who honor veterans at their funerals. Then at the end of the service his wife was presented with a folded flag for his service to a grateful nation.
My friend was a man of faith. We talked deeply about Biblical principles and practical theology. He’d share with me his convictions and his abiding trust in Jesus, not merely an intellectual assent but an abiding personal relationship with God. He wore his faith on his sleeve and lived it out in his profession and his service to others in his circle of community. While he would say, and did, that he was the least of singers he served with great affection in the choir of his church. He was passionate about their interests and committed to his participation. They sang his favorite song at his memorial “In Christ Alone.”
The close of his memorial service was a bagpipe recording of Amazing Grace, taken from the end of one of his favorite movies by the same name, the history of which I have written about here. I hope it will be played at my own memorial, bagpipes please.
I trust I will see him again, on the other side.
Bill Petro, a grateful friend blessed by the life of David