In Loving Memory of

Thomas Winston Childress


Thomas Winston Childress                                                                                                                                   September 22, 1929 – April 17, 2013

Thomas Winston Childress, 83 of Gainesville died April 17th following a brief illness.  Winston, son of Herman W. and Pauline Willoughby Childress, was born in Birmingham, AL on September 22, 1929.  His family moved to Miami, FL in 1942 where he attended Dade County public schools.  He attended the University of Florida where he earned a B.A. in history (1952).  He received a Master of Religious Education degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (1956), and a Master of Science degree in elementary curriculum from Barry College in Miami Shores, FL (1968).  In 1976, he was awarded his Ph.D. in reading education from Florida State University.

Winston enrolled in the Reserve Officers Training Corps while pursuing his undergraduate studies at the University of Florida.  On the same day he received his B.A., he earned a commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.  Lieutenant Childress was assigned to the 15th Artillery Battalion of the Second Infantry Division in Korea.  He served as a forward artillery observer assigned to the 9th Infantry Regiment and saw combat (summer 1953) in the Chorwan and Kumhwa valleys.  He was promoted to first lieutenant and received the Bronze Star Medal for his combat service in Korea (1954).

From 1956-1963, Winston served as music/choral director and education director of Baptist churches in Georgia and Florida.  He taught in the Dade County public elementary schools during 1963-1968 and worked as a reading teacher and specialist for the Dade County school system until 1973.  After completing his doctorate degree, he was research associate at Florida State University acting as consultant for reading with Florida’s Right-to-Read Program.

Dr. Childress joined the faculty at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC in 1976 and received tenure in 1981.  He served as chairperson of the Department of Reading Education from 1982-1985.  Dr. Childress retired from Appalachian State University in June 1995 and was awarded emeritus status.  He was a member of Phi Delta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Mu Alpha. 

Winston was involved with music throughout his life including playing trumpet in the Gator Band, participating in a barbershop quartet and a band member with a group of professors while at Appalachian State University.   Upon retirement, Winston relocated to Gainesville with his wife, who was born in Gainesville, where he has enjoyed reading, computer surfing, genealogy, motor home travel, growing bromeliads, dog walking through his neighborhood and public school volunteer work.

Winston is survived by his wife of 60 years, Betty Jo (Gardner) Childress; daughter, Paula Watkins; two grandchildren, Chris Watkins and Cassandra Watkins, all of Gainesville; a son, Marc Childress and wife, E-Lu Chen of Emporia, KS; a son Tom and wife, Sandy of Fort Myers, FL; a grandson, Brett Childress of Orlando, FL; and a granddaughter, Brianna Childress of Tampa, FL.  He is preceded in death by his parents, Herman and Pauline Childress; his sister, Janice Childress Matthews; and granddaughter Heather Childress.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, April 20th at 2:00 p.m. in the chapel at Forest Meadows located at 725 N.W. 23rd Avenue, Gainesville. FL.

Online Condolences

11 Responses

  1. Emily Wilson at · Reply

    I will so miss you dear neighbor. Always ready to spend time to talk and visit, Winston had a way of conversation that was very engaging. My tender condolences to the family.

  2. Gene N Isom at · Reply

    Doris and I are once again saddened by the loss of another comrade and Chapter Member, and one in whose presence we wish we would have been allotted more time.

  3. Rob Branch at · Reply

    May his soul rest in peace and may peace be unto you and the family.

  4. Ira S Baron at · Reply

    Winston would always have kind and friendly conversations with me during the 12 years have been neighbors. My heart goes out to Betty Jo, Chris, and the entire family.

  5. Instructional Design & Technology Dept, Emporia State University, Emporia, KS at · Reply

    Please know that the entire family is in our thoughts and prayers. js

  6. Vicki Napper at · Reply

    The light of your father’s love and wisdom will always be with you. You and your family are in my thoughs.

  7. Kelly at · Reply

    I’m sorry to hear about your dad. May his memories live on in your heart. Revelation 21:4 says that one day death, mourning, and tears will be gone. I hope you find God’s unfailing promise of the resurrection comforting. You’re in our thoughts.

  8. Julian Bridges, Ph. D. at · Reply

    Betty Jo, SO very sorry about Winston’s sudden passing. Remember that he’s now among that “great cloud of witnesses” smiling on, with those joyful expressions that always cheered and entertained us during BSU days at the U. of F. I can still here him immitating the high-pitched voice of Dr. Chester Swor, when he said, “Girls, watch our for those boys in their woo-wagons!” Now Winston’s singing and maybe playing his trumpet in the choirs of HEAVEN.

    My prayers are with you and your dear family.

    Julian (Bridges)

  9. Bill Lovett at · Reply

    My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family, Betty Jo. I remember
    Winston singing with the quartet at BSU U of F and have fond memories of his
    talking like Chester Swor (as Julian B. mentioned). Dr. Swor once commented that
    the boys called the Dean of Women at the college who was pretty strict on curfew
    for the girls their nickname for her “Sweet Mama Concrete”. We will continue to keep you all in our prayers knowing that God will bring comfort to you in this great time of need for you and your family.

  10. Michele Meischeid at · Reply

    Dr. Childress was my graduate advisor at ASU 91-93. He always had a smile on his face and was always very encouraging. I will remember him fondly. My prayers are with his family.

  11. Tamara Lee at · Reply

    I finished my Master’s in Reading Education in 1989, and retired from public school teaching in 2018. Dr Childress was one of my favorite professors and I was just thinking of him and decided to look him up. He was a great and compassionate teacher and I remember him fondly. Prayers, belatedly, for his family.

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