Jan. 14, 1942 — March 14, 2019
In 2005 and 2006, Charleen R. Winkler received President’s Volunteer Service Awards in recognition of her hours of volunteer work at the Clarence Senior Center and Meals on Wheels.
It would have been understandable if she had bragged a little about her achievement, which included congratulatory letters from President George W. Bush.
But Ms. Winkler's daughter, Kelli L. Kuhen, only found out about the honors when she discovered the certificates among her mother's papers.
"She was very modest," said her daughter. "I didn't even know about this until I came across the certificates in her files. I thought, 'That's so cool!' "
Ms. Winkler, who moved to San Diego two years ago to be near her daughter as her health declined, died on March 14, 2019. She was 77.
She was the oldest child of Charles G. and Ruth M. (Evans) Winkler and sister of Robert J. Winkler. Her father started out working as a mechanic, then became a car salesman. He was also a longtime member of the Brighton Volunteer Fire Co.
Ms. Winkler graduated from Kenmore High School in the class of 1959. In school, she played clarinet in the marching band and concert band, and was also a member of the woodworking club.
She earned a business degree at Bryant & Stratton College, then moved to Miami, where she worked for the Sun Sentinel newspaper for a brief time, her daughter said. After training as a nursing assistant in Florida, Ms. Winkler returned to Western New York. She worked at Sheridan Park Hospital in Tonawanda for her entire career.
She married Daniel Heimann on Sept. 27, 1977, and in the mid-1980s, she retired and the couple moved to Clarence, his hometown.
After retirement, "she got busy," said her daughter, indulging her interest in gardening, photography, bowling, golf and travel.
Ms. Winkler, who was then known as Ms. Heimann, was an energetic fixture at the Clarence Senior Center, participating in the Diner’s Club, the Nature Club, the Travel Club, dance and playing piano for the chorus. Both the Heimanns "became really active there," Kuhen said. "She hadn't played piano in who knows how long, and she began playing piano for the chorus and he was singing in the chorus."
Ms. Winkler organized activities of the Diner's Club, checking out restaurants for members to enjoy, her daughter said.
She was a lifelong animal lover who had many dogs and cats during her life. As a teenager, she showed her family's cairn terrier in shows, her daughter said.
"She had a great sense of humor," Kuhen said. "She was always smiling and had this little giggle."
Although Ms. Winkler had many achievements in her life, her daughter said she recently realized that her mother was most proud of her. A few months ago, while she was being transferred from one medical facility to another in an ambulance, Ms. Winkler told the medic all about her daughter, who earned a doctorate and works as a scientist.
The medic later shared the conversation with Kuhen, who was astonished that despite her own pain, her mother was focused on her daughter's achievements. "I would never have guessed," her daughter said. "I think she was super proud of me. I was so touched when I heard about it."
Ms. Winkler and Heimann divorced after 30 years of marriage; he died in 2013.
Besides her daughter, Ms. Winkler is survived by several nieces and nephews.
A funeral service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday in Dengler, Roberts Perna Funeral Home, 3070 Delaware Ave., Kenmore.