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Rest In Peace, Stacey Winters

with 22 comments

Earlier tonight, my phone rang and caller ID displayed a weird number from Oklahoma. Normally, I decline calls from numbers I don’t recognize, but this time I thought there might be a chance that it was my brother-in-law or maybe Shelley’s mother calling from someone’s cell phone or something.

When I answered, the girl on the other end told me she was looking for me, and when I confirmed that I was who she was looking for, she told me that she was sorry, but that my friend Stacey Winters had died over the weekend.

I met Stacey in 1995, when I moved to Stillwater, Oklahoma to do MA work in Oklahoma State University’s English department. I knew one person in Oklahoma at the time, and she was in the middle of studying for her comprehensives and didn’t want to have anything to do with me. So I was sort of all alone for a few months there.

Except for Stacey.

I don’t remember how we met, but I assume it was while working in OSU’s writing center as tutors. I was coming from the MA program at the University of Southern Mississippi, which had, shall we say, a somewhat more laid-back atmosphere, and I distinctly remember this difference hitting home for me when I had to ask Stacey to cover one of my shifts in the Writing Center because I had been in Tulsa playing music. She gladly did it, but I remember thinking to myself “That may have been fine in Hattiesburg, MS, but here, in this place, it was not cool.” I adjusted to my new department’s temperament pretty quickly afterwards.

Stacey and I were both c19 people, so we both took every class that Linda Austin or Robert Mayer offered. We both bonded in our hatred of a particular student (the wife of a lawyer for the Board of Regents) who was “getting her PhD for fun”—this woman constantly insulted other students around the seminar table; she did not finish the program. There were a lot of night classes together. There were a lot of late nights in the writing center together. There were a lot of night classes finished off with a few rounds at the Stonewall Tavern across the street from campus. We lived in the same apartment complex, too—at one point right across the quad from one another, which meant that I would get her attention by shining a laser pointer into her window—and so there were lots of Oscar parties and just random “hey, I made too much dinner. Do you want to come over and help me eat this?” We got to be really good friends and spend a heap of time together—so much time so that I once introduced Shelley to someone as Stacey.

When she decided not to pursue a Ph.D., it broke my heart. She was so smart, and such a good reader and thinker, I told her, that it would be a real loss for her not to do a Ph.D. She said she just didn’t have it in her to do all that extra coursework and a dissertation. She took a job as an English teacher in Perkins, OK.

Stacey was a movie buff and a fan of good television. She was the one who introduced me to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Joss Whedon, and think I can safely say that in that alone she influenced my life in an enormous way.  The last time we were all together, on one of her annual pilgrimages to Utah, we spent an entire lunch in Salt Lake City laughing about True Blood and saying “Sookie” in that Bill Compton voice, bad Southern accent and all.

I kept thinking, earlier tonight, that Stacey would be incredibly pissed off that she died before the season finale of True Blood.

Rest in peace, Stacey.  The show’s not as good as it used to be, anyway.

***

I’m not on Facebook.  If you are, and you knew Stacey, please spread the word to those who knew her.

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Written by srogers

August 5, 2012 at 8:08 pm

Posted in Personal

22 Responses

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  1. Found this when I was on google, Stacey Winters (Ms. Winters as I will always remember her) was my junior year English teacher in Perkins. She helped me fall more in love with reading and even writing. She was my favorite English teacher. Sounds like you had fun together, I’ll send prayers your way.
    ~Jennifer~

    Jennifer PRice

    August 5, 2012 at 9:32 pm

  2. Very sad. Her profile on FB is closed up tight right now. I wanted to go back and re-read some of her funny things and look at her pictures again. I hope her family will open her FB again soon and I hope that her mother is holding it together. 😦

    Tiffany D

    August 6, 2012 at 8:04 am

  3. Tiff: does anyone know anything at this point? The cousin who called me said they weren’t sure what happened.

    srogers

    August 6, 2012 at 8:18 am

    • I have heard some things but the only detail that I believe is 100% accurate is that she died at home. 😦 Her fb is open again. I know you don’t do fb but you might make a profile so that you can go over there and leave some nice words.

      HOW Y’ALL DOIN’, BY THE WAY? I will add your blog to my reader and check in on you guys more often. 🙂

      Tiffany D

      August 6, 2012 at 11:44 am

    • I should add, though, that although it seems that people agree that she died at home, I haven’t heard that from a family member, so even that detail could be wrong.

      Tiffany D

      August 6, 2012 at 12:01 pm

      • Odds of us getting on Facebook are pretty slim. We’re on the Twitter machine, though!

        srogers

        August 6, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    • Scott, a toxicology report is underway, but will take a while. Kitura, who called you, says they think it was a heart attack. No foul play, according to Stacey’s mom, and she also said Stacey was asleep when it happened. Beyond that I don’t know. I’d chatted with her a few times last week, and she did not mention feeling ill at all.

      My best to Shelley.

      Leslie Fife

      August 8, 2012 at 1:17 pm

      • Thanks, Leslie. We weren’t sure how to get in touch with you. You were the first person we thought of. Please let us know if there’s anything we can do.

        srogers

        August 8, 2012 at 1:19 pm

  4. Thank you for writing about Stacey in such a personal way. She was the daughter of one of our scretaries-Leanne at the Oklahoma Dept. of Human Services in Logan County Oklahoma. We watched her grow up. Leanne was so very proud of her achievements as well as her teaching English in Perkins.
    Jan

    Jan Harris

    August 6, 2012 at 10:17 am

  5. Thank you for calling me yesterday. I haven’t yet wrapped my mind around a world without Stacey. If you want to post something on Facebook (and don’t want to create a profile), email it to me, and I’ll post it for you.

    Christine

    August 6, 2012 at 1:42 pm

  6. I understand why you’d say it’d be a real loss for her to not pursue a Ph.D, but I am very glad that she did not. I was one of her students in High School and because of her classes and influence in my life I pursued a career in film production and now own a small video production company. During college Stacey was a mentor who quickly became a friend. We had many discussions about Buffy, Whedon, and the various movies we would go see together. Her stories from college were always hilarious and I remember being told more than once about the friend who would shine a laser pointer through the window. (I seem to remember something about her being pissed about being hunted by a snipper for no good reason.)

    She did pass away at home. Her mother could not get ahold of her by phone and asked a friend to go by and check on her. I have not heard “officially” what happened yet. (Heart attack has been thrown around on fb, but I don’t think that is official.)

    With your permission, I’d like to link your blog to her page so others can read this post.

    Karen May

    August 6, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    • Absolutely, please link away.

      srogers

      August 6, 2012 at 11:49 pm

  7. Stacey was my cooperating teacher when I did my student teaching in Spring 2010. I was terrified but she was so friendly and funny that I felt at ease around her immediately. I admired how intelligent she was and how much the kids adored her. I was her first student teacher, and she taught me so much more than any class and was the only true mentor I’ve ever had. I remember her telling me about her friend in Utah, and I can only assume that is you! I had planned to email her about my new teaching job and just last night I had a dream that I was back at PTHS teaching with Ms. Winters. One of my former students told me this evening via Facebook about her passing. Losing her is a tragic loss to those who knew her and for those who were not fortunate enough to have met her yet!

    Jackie Carson Giammario

    August 6, 2012 at 8:28 pm

  8. Thank you so much for your wonderful personal writing about Stacey! I found it via FB where it is circulating. Stacey and I met as seniors in High school when I was in Guthrie, OK, as an exchange student from Sweden. She was always so kind and helpful and her humour just awesome! Our friendship reboosted after meeting again on our 20-yr hs-reunion a few yrs back. FB is great that way, that you can keep in touch even though there has been miles and miles, oceans between us… She will be greatly missed…also by me over here in Sweden.
    Thank you again for your post, great ending with the True Blood stories, made me laugh so hard! We had some good sharing about that show as well! Take care! /Carina

    CarinaG

    August 8, 2012 at 3:39 am

  9. I, too knew of her trips to Utah…to the friends she adored…such a sweet message you wrote…we all miss her…and know that she was so incredibly special and no one can fill that space… I remember one trip she brought back an “action figure” Mormon doll…she was so funny…with her own brand of everything, humor, smarts, sarcasm and wit…

    Staci Willis

    August 9, 2012 at 6:40 pm

  10. Scott–It’s so good to read these reflections. Stacey and I spoke of you and Shelley often, and Jose and I think of you with many fond memories. The service was today, and it was beautiful to see so many from several differrent facets of her life there to honor her. And, also, so know there were so many others, like you two, who were with us in thought. GIve Shelley a hug from us. I hope you don’t mind, but I got your emails from Christine so that I could keep in touch. It was always Stacey who kept most of us updated on the others. I guess now it’s up to us to do so ourselves. Oh, and I’m not sure if you know or not, but it’s Jose’s oldest son Joe who now owns our bar, The Stonewall Tavern. Love to you, my friend.

    Marlys

    Marlys C.

    August 11, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    • A) IT’S SO NICE TO HEAR FROM YOU!

      B) JOE BOUGHT THE STONEWALL?!!! IT’S SAVED!! IT’S SAVED!

      In the midst of all this awfulness, that is good news.

      Do you know if the obit has been published and where? Does Guthrie or Perkins have a paper?

      We’re not on Facebook, but we are on the Twitter machine (click through the feed on the righthand sidebar).

      I tried to text you immediately after we found out, but none of the numbers I found worked.

      srogers

      August 11, 2012 at 7:54 pm

      • http://www.smithgallo.com/fh/obituaries/obituary.cfm?o_id=1552180&fh_id=11970

        The link above should take you to the obit. It was in Guthrie’s newspaper. The service was nice, but the memories of all of our fun times were even nicer. I hate that it takes something like this to get back in touch, but it’s so great to read your blog (actually, Joe found it and sent it to me after I’d texted him about Stacey). My cell is DELETED. Text sometime so I have your number to keep in touch. We got rid of our home phone after everyone had cells, and the home phone ended up with messages from sales or political candidates. 🙂 My email is DELETED.

        Yes, Joe has the Stonewall. He managed Willie’s for a while, but then the owner brought in his son, and it wasn’t really the money for the work. He bought the Stonewall (buildings and all) and has done great. He says people drink in good times and in bad times, so you can’t go wrong with a bar in a good location. I teased him about buying my bar. He’s had it for a while and has done so well that he brought his brother to Stillwater, and Javi now has College Bar. He’s renovated it, and it’s specialty is numerous 6-pt varieties on tap. They don’t own that building–just the business.

        It’s great to hear from you, to get tuned in to your blog so we can keep up, and to see you two are doing well. It was fun to read about your accidental run. 🙂

        Love to you both, and Molly (What kind of dog is she?) Which makes me remember Stacey’s crazy cats!

        Marlys C.

        August 11, 2012 at 9:12 pm

      • Molly is a Border Collie. She just turned 5 last month. We have both become pretty knowledgable about sheep and sheepdogs. Whodathunkit?

        srogers

        August 12, 2012 at 9:41 am

      • BTW, I copied your contact info and removed it from that post. You’ll get a ton of spam, otherwise.

        srogers

        August 12, 2012 at 9:42 am

  11. Scott, thanks for writing this about Stacey. I was glad to have found it and have sent the link to some others. Send me an email if you have time–I’d love to know how you’re doing beyond what I read here.
    Elizabeth G.

    Elizabeth Grubgeld

    August 19, 2012 at 1:19 pm

  12. Dear Scott,

    Thank you for your remembrance of Stacey. I did not learn of her passing until my Christmas card was returned by her mother, with a sad, sweet note, in January.

    She was so well read, widely read, and insightful. About so many topics. I lived with her in Stillwater my last semester at OSU. Stacey was working on a paper that compared a Jane Austin novel (I don’t remember which one) to the movie “So I Married An Axe Murderer”. I watched that movie with her so many times and she would find so many subtle references, layers, jokes. We would laugh and laugh but I was always so impressed with her intelligence.

    I spoke to her rarely, but we emailed, inboxed and I followed her and her students on Facebook. So sad and such a loss.

    Thank you for your post here. I remember you and Shelley well and send my good wishes to you both.

    Pat Marshall

    Pat Marshall

    February 28, 2013 at 8:01 am


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