Joseph Allen Winfree Sr., 62, of Lake Butler passed away Sunday, August 29, 2021 from a sudden illness at North Florida Regional Hospital of Gainesville. Joseph was born August 18, 1959 in Denver, Colorado to the late Roy and Elizabeth Winfree. He graduated class of 1977 from Wray, Colorado High School. He continued his education by studying pre-med., chemistry, biology and psychology at Bethany Lindsborg, Kansas class of 1980. He further studied pre-med at Kansas State University class of 1981. Joseph Allen Winfree married his wife and soulmate, Martha Lou Collins Ferguson on August 15, 1981, building over 40 years of memories, family and successes. After settling down in Florida, he pursued a career as a correctional officer with the Florida Department of Corrections in late 1981 and then attended nursing school graduating in 1991 from Florida State College, becoming a registered nurse. In his 40-year career working with the State of Florida, he studied criminology at Lake City Community College, was a correctional officer, sergeant, registered nurse, nursing supervisor, Utilization Management at Corizon Health Services, RN consultant for health services and education at Florida Department of Corrections, Certified CPR instructor, and was presently working Utilization Management outpatient nursing for Centurion. In addition to his career, he also taught Patient Care Technician classes at Bradford-Union Area Career Technical Center and volunteered time for the past eight years as Santa for the Lake Butler Elementary School ESE Department. He dedicated his life to helping others through his nursing career, teaching career, friendships, and family values. His favorite thing in this world was spending time with his family. He also enjoyed singing, dancing, teaching, performing theater, writing and playing music, fishing, traveling, gardening and writing short stories. He was also a member of the Elks Lodge and Gainesville Barbergators. His smile, laughter and positivity were contagious. His wisdom, authenticity and rare sense of integrity enlightened and touched many lives.
He is survived by: his spouse of over 40 years, Martha Lou Winfree; his three sons, James Clearance Ferguson, Jason Lee Ferguson, Joseph Allen Winfree Jr.; one daughter, Lisa Annette Winfree Thompson; their spouses; seven grandchildren and their spouses; five living siblings; and two preceding him in death; and lots of nieces, nephews, cousins, and other extended family he loved dearly.
The funeral services will be held Friday, Sept. 10 with a visitation at 2 p.m. and service at 3 p.m. at Archer-Milton Funeral Home. The service will be followed by a burial at Elzey Chapel Cemetery in Lake Butler.
There are creative projects that Joe was working on, prior to being hospitalized, getting them ready to show the world. Joe took care of the creative part. Getting them ready to show the world, well that's on us. Read more by visiting https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-us-make-his-dreams....
"When you learn, teach. When you get, give." - Dr. Maya Angelou
Joseph Winfree Sr was a true gentleman. If he gave you his word, he kept it. If you asked, he answered. If you needed, he gave. Joe poured his heart and soul into his family and his work. He didn't do it for recognition or kudos. He didn't share his light with the world to pad his pockets or make it into some exclusive club. He did it to make our world better – and he did.
Joe loved to learn and he loved to teach. Most that knew him know he was a wealth of knowledge – a solid, dependable foundation – strong enough to move mountains with the work that he did helping people daily with his contributions as a medical professional. All that knew him know that, enveloped in his intellect, was a creative soul at the core. As we sit here, remembering him, it becomes more clear than ever that those qualities were the catalysts to Joe's ability to connect with people. Joe could connect with you if you were kind, or funny, or clever, or free-spirited, or level-headed because he exemplified all of those things. His smile was contagious, genuine and warm because it emanated from within. It illuminated the room; he was always on!
In life, some of the things near and dear to Joe's heart were the opportunities to make a difference for younger generations. It is apparent that children held a special place in Joe's heart by the way he interacted with them. If you've spent time with him around Christmas each year, you've probably heard about his infamous Santa impression! When he walked into that room, dressed as Santa, it was like kids (young and old) could just be kids for that moment. For that moment, those day-to-day things or struggles just melted away and there was only room for joy.
Creating those moments and memories are what life is truly about. Joe knew that... bet he still does.
While we're busy wrapping up his final expenses and arrangements, we can't help but feel that he'd want his legacy, that joy, to continue. There are creative projects that Joe was working on, prior to being hospitalized, getting them ready to show the world. Joe took care of the creative part. Getting them ready to show the world, well that's on us. Realizing the opportunity and gift he had, seeing children's eyes light up, that spark, when they get to be creative and learn something new, motivated Joe to put the pen to paper and author children's story books! Your donation will help Joe's smile, creativity and intellect continue to reach young minds and hearts in communities around Florida (and possibly beyond) through his children's books. Kids having fun while reading and learning is one of those moments... what it's all about.