The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum and the state Capitol are two prominent locations where many people have met Susan Winchester.
This month Winchester, of Chickasha, began a two-year term as chairman of the Oklahoma City National Memorial Foundation Board of Trustees. And in 1998, she was elected to the House of Representatives and served until choosing not to run again in 2008.
What some may not know is that she was working with the public from a young age.
“We owned American Dusting Company and Chickasha Flying Service,” she said. “From the time I was 7, I was sent to our office at the airport to answer the phone.”
Once she turned 16, Winchester was promoted to truck driver and given the responsibility of meeting the airplanes at various locations across Oklahoma and Kansas. After graduating from college, she advanced to “all other jobs not specifically outlined.”
That meant she ran the office, gassed the airplanes and still occasionally drove the trucks. Winchester said they sold the business in 1989.
But she has continued to work with and serve the public with a passion.
In addition to her work on the Oklahoma City National Memorial Foundation Board of Trustees, she is a regent for the Regional Universities of Oklahoma.
Winchester also serves as a board member for the Oklahoma School of Science and Math Foundation, the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits, the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma Foundation, and others. She is a member and former board member of Leadership Oklahoma. In 2005, Winchester was selected as one of 40 emerging state leaders from across the nation for participation in the Toll Fellowship Program sponsored by the Council of State Governments.
A few years ago, she was recognized as the Oklahoma Woman of the Year by The Journal Record newspaper and she has received numerous other local and state awards. She was also inducted into the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy Hall of Fame.
The importance of family
Winchester and husband, Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Jim Winchester, have one son, Davis.
“Jim has threatened for years to start a ‘Volunteers Anonymous' program in hopes that it would help me overcome my volunteer problem,” she joked.
Family and service are important to Winchester. And those two aspects are intertwined in her involvement with the Oklahoma City National Memorial.
There were 168 people who died as a result of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995. A symbolic wall-breaking ceremony was held this month to kick off enhancements to the memorial museum.