Kansas University lost one of its finest, most effective and most respected spokesmen Monday with the death of Richard Wintermote.
As an undergraduate at KU, after serving in the U.S. Navy, Wintermote was a cheerleader on the KU pep squad and he didn’t stop cheering for the Jayhawks until his death.
The personable and always optimistic Wintermote started his career as an assistant director for the KU Alumni Association immediately following his graduation in 1951. In 1963, he moved into the association’s leadership position, succeeding the legendary Fred Ellsworth.
The Augusta, Kan., native served the association for 32 years, stepping down in 1983. He then was asked to oversee long-range planning for both the alumni association and the KU Endowment Association, which led to the highly successful Campaign Kansas.
Over the years under Wintermote’s leadership, the alumni association was recognized numerous times for excellence and effective innovations that attracted national attention. The KU Alumni Association was recognized as one of the nation’s best in generating paid membership and developing alumni interest and support.
Wintermote realized the importance of a stand-alone alumni association building and he urged his board of directors to start a fund drive to build the Adams Alumni Center at 1266 Oread Ave. Few university alumni associations had a facility to match the Adams Center, and university alumni leaders from throughout the country visited Wintermote to learn more about the building and how it served the association and the university.
The Adams Center opened in 1983, and Wintermote retired shortly thereafter.
The KU Alumni Association is a separate organization, independent of the university. However, its mission is to generate enthusiasm and interest in KU and to encourage alumni and friends to be supportive of the school.
Wintermote did a highly effective job of telling the KU story and he did this in a straightforward manner rather than operating merely as a mouthpiece for the administration. He enjoyed a close and respectful relationship with KU chancellors, starting with Deane W. Malott and ending with Gene Budig, and he was skilled in working with Kansas legislators to urge fiscal support for the school.
KU and all higher education institutions need individuals like Wintermote. He was a tireless worker, honest, genuine and highly respected. There was nothing phony or self-promoting about the man, and he was a true professional in his work.
KU is a better school today because of the 32 years Dick Wintermote devoted to it.