Remembering World War Two Families- The Bill and Gladys Winslow Family
By grandson Robert Winslow Nay
The Winslow Children: Mary, Jean, Bill, Dorothy, Lois
I have found the stories on the Veterans page very moving. From those military soldiers and their families who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country to other equally memorable articles of veterans serving their county , the citizens of Bennett’s Valley have served their nation well. I paused to think of my grandparents – Bill and Gladys Burke Winslow– and their family’s personal contributions and sacrifices during those war years and after. I’m sure this is not much different than many other families of this time- but it is another perspective on the theme of “Lest We Forget”. We are honoring both our men and women who served and also their families that supported them and contributed to our country’s efforts for freedom and peace.
Because of poor economic conditions in the early 1940s, Grandpa Bill Winslow (born and raised in Benezette) and his wife and grandmother Gladys Burke (of Weedville) left their beloved Benezette for jobs and opportunities in New Castle, Pa.
Their oldest, and only, son William Burke Winslow had graduated from Benezette High School and had already entered the US Army Air Corp- soon to become a B17 pilot in England where he received the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal- and finally retiring as a Lt Col in the US Air Force. I have written of his WW2 B17 experiences in another article on this web site called “Benezette’s Own Legend of Air Power”. He married his first with Dorothy while in the service and had a daughter Valerie. After his first wife’s death ,he married Jean Tyler and lived his last years in Titusville, Florida with his loving family. There he would continue his aviation passion watching the space program at the Kennedy Space Cente. His funeral in Savannah, Georgia with full military honors capped this Benezette’s citizen’s service to his country. In 2011 he was honored by the Mt Zion Historical Society as one of its “Heroes of Air Power”
After graduating from Benezette High School, their second child and daughter Lois Winslow had married a New Castle hunter, Brock Connors, had a daughter Susan (who also served in the US Womens Army Corps in the late 1950s), and lived near her parents in New Castle during and after the war years.
Daughter Mary (my Mom) graduated from Benezette High School and also moved with her parents to New Castle where she tried to enlist in the military services , but was not qualified because of a congenital heart murmur. She worked in New Castle as a waitress during these years and also attended many USO activities for the military boys at Camp Reynolds. There she met Robert “Jake” E. Nay of Virginia a corporal in the Army Transportation Corps who served in North Africa, Italy, and Southern France from 1942-1945. Among various campaign medals he also was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds received in the Italy campaign. They were married shortly after he returned from Europe, had two sons- Bob (Butch) and Bill, and lived in New Castle, Pa and Boardman, Ohio where he worked in the steel mills. As with all the Winslow daughters Mary was especially proud of her brother’s service during and after the war. I also remember her sadness, but proud feeling when I, right out of college, joined the US Army Security Agency during those Vietnam days. I was trained as a German linguist at the Defense Language Institute in Monterrey, California, and served three years in West Berlin, Germany. A proud and patriotic Mom and Dad were they.
Another daughter –Dorothy– had graduated from Benezette High School. Not only out of duty to her country but also in support of her pilot brother Bill in England, Dorothy felt the call to serve as many women were doing in those days. Shortly after moving with her Mom and Dad to New Castle, she enlisted with the US Marines Corps and served in administrative functions at Camp Pendleton in California. While there were no heroic deeds nor sacrifices , Dorothy served her country well not only during those times but continually throughout the rest of her life as a patriotic citizen , mother , wife, and aunt. Soon after the war ended she married Socrates Roussos of New Castle. T/Sgt “Socs” Roussos had served in WW2 as a B24 (known as both the”Bonnie” and “After Hours”) flight engineer in the Southwest Pacific Theater out of New Guinea with the “Black Pirates” squadron of the “Jolly Rogers” 5th AAF, 90th Bomber Group, 400th Bomber Squadron for three years from 1943-1945. He received the Air Medal with 3 oak leaf clusters,the Asia-Pacific ribbon with 5 bronze battle stars, and other ribbons and medals.After the war Socs graduated from Slippery Rock College,taught high school science and coached football and other sports, and in New Castle Dots and Socs raised their family with Stacy, Melinda, Chris,and Michael. Dorothy’s funeral services included the American Legion squadron’s very solemn “We salute you ” salutation which she would have loved.
And finally daughter Jean who moved with them to New Castle where she graduated from high school and shortly there after followed in these same patriotic footsteps and joined the US Marines. While a secretary in the Pentagon, she met and married a heroic Marine officer – John Wyatt who eventually retired from the Marine Corps- and a proud Marine family this was. John worked with General Motors across the USA after the service, and they raised their family of -Russ and Jodi. John and Jean are buried together in Arlington National Cemetery.
Back to Bill and Gladys. Bill (rejected from service in WW1 because of having a glass eye) supported and loved his son and daughters in his own quiet way as many men in those days seemed to do. But Gladys was a lady ahead of her time from her school days at Gray School and Jay Township High School. She very much supported these patriotic traditions by giving blood every time she could and receiving honors from the community for this giving. She didn’t stop here . She was significantly involved in Veteran and Memorial days for as long as I can remember- and instilling in me that same patriotic feeling and need to serve from those days of being her “gopher” at those events to my service time in Vietnam Era Europe after graduating from college.
I fondly remember “working” with my grandmother, my mom,and my aunts and cousins in the 1950s during Veterans and Memorial Days passing out those red poppy flowers as a way of honoring all our vets. Bill and Gladys , their children, and grandchildren were all proud of their American patriotic ancestors, descendents, and heritage.
As with this Burke-Winslow family, these patriotic feelings continue to this day with all our beloved citizens – whether from the Bennett’s Valley or across the entire nation.
Lest We Forget– The Families,their Contributions, and their Sacrifices.