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Winter shares stories of his father, early Manteca
Retiring Manteca High Principal Steve Winter shares his family history at Thursday’s Manteca Historical Society meeting. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Before Steve Winter retired from his position as Manteca High School principal this year, he didn’t have to venture very far to see the impact his family has made on the town.

Just up the street from the administration building sits the Dr. Robert C. Winter Gymnasium – which still packs in students today when intra-city rivalries are brewing and playoff implications are on the line.

But on Thursday night, Winter – who spent 38 years at Manteca High School – took time out of his newly retired schedule to be the guest speaker at the Manteca Historical Society’s monthly program.

The emphasis was on his father and the early days of his medical practice in Manteca.

After attending medical school at the University of Nebraska and moving to Santa Barbara for his internship, Dr. Winter would eventually answer his country’s call and enlist in the military where he would spend two years in Europe during the heaviest fighting of World War II.

“He would talk to us about St. Louis where he was first stationed, and about going to Cardinals games and getting to watch Stan Musial, but he never talked about what he saw while he was overseas,” Winter said. “It wasn’t until my mother saw an article in the newspaper that she realized he had made it home alive.”

And Manteca would be the place that he would settle.

After building an office over on Sherman Avenue, Dr. Winter decided to construct a house out on what supposed to be Milner Street but ended up being on Raylow – something that puzzled the people of Manteca at the time.

“At that time it was the country out there and the people in town said that it was impossible for a doctor to live that far away and still make a living,” Winter said. “It was surrounded by drainage ditches and there were fields in just about every direction.”

When it came to the work of being a doctor, young Steve would often accompany his father on house calls either on his own volition or at his father’s insistence – giving him an early lesson in how to care for people.

Aside from the periodic trips, Dr. Winter wasn’t around home very often. With no hospital in Manteca, he would have to drive to Stockton and hit St. Joseph’s and Dameron before going to Tracy and then maintaining his own office hours. He’s always come home for dinner – where the entire family would sit down for a meal and talk about what transpired for the day – and he’d do it all over again, sometimes even throwing in house calls.

But watching the dedication his father had to his job and the care he exhibited to his patients, Winter said, stuck with him in a way he never could have imagined.

“The value of work and commitment to work is something that was drilled into us,” he said. “We learned commitment, and when we committed to something we did it to the best of his ability.”

At the age of 62, Dr. Robert C. Winter passed away – leaving behind a family and a rich history and tradition in a town that loved and adored him.

With Steve Winter turning 62 this summer, the parallels aren’t lost on him.

“In a way I feel a little bit cheated,” he said, choking back tears. “I finally got to the point where I could not only talk to him, but know what he was saying.

“And what was so great about this community was that no matter what, people lent a shoulder or a hand with pure selflessness.”