Charles Wendell Winkler was born January 10, 1931. He was the second son
born to Merlin Paul
and Lucille Ruby Fultz Winkler. He and his older brother, Paul, Jr. were
raised in the home of a gospel preacher. Wendell was baptized by his
father, and grew up with a passion for preaching. He preached his first
sermon at thirteen years of age. He married the former Betty Sue
Hargrove, daughter of one of the elders in the congregation at Port
Arthur on September 1, 1949. Born to their union were three sons, Dan,
born in 1952, Mike, in 1955, and Tim, in 1960.
Preparation for the ministry took young Wendell to Montgomery, Alabama to study at Faulkner University, then Montgomery Bible College. Later he attended Lamar College of Technology in Beaumont, Texas.
He began preaching in Port Arthur, but his first full-time work was for the Oak Grove church of Christ in Quinton, Alabama. He was there from 1949-1950. In 1950 he went to Sour Lake, Texas and spent the next two years with the church there. Then from 1952-1954 he worked with the church in Rayville, Louisiana. The family moved to Neosho, Missouri and were there for the next six years. In 1959 he debated A.L. McKinney, on the topic of "The Inspiration of the Bible." In 1960 he began preaching for the Airline Drive church in Bossier City, Louisiana. In 1962 another move took the family to Houston, Texas where he preached for the MacGreagor Park congregation. He then took the preaching position for the Glen Garden church in Fort Worth in 1964. He served the church there for 12 years. In 1966 he began instructing in the Brown Trail School of Preaching at Hurst, Texas. While at Glen Garden he was awarded bulletin of the year in 1968 by 20th Century Christian Publications. Finally he was invited to take the preaching position at the Brown Trail congregation in 1976. Three years later he took the position of director of the school of preaching, a work he continued for the next three years.
At the end of the 1982 school year, Winkler announced his intention of resigning to enter full-time meeting work. Almost immediately he was thrust into the forefront of leadership among churches of Christ. He began appearing on college lectureships on a regular basis. He preached in meetings and in other lecture programs all over the country. Reports appeared in the Gospel Advocate from time to time through the 1980s of his continuous efforts where in the course of a few meetings, sometimes over one hundred responses were being reported.
In 1985 the board of Trustees of Alabama Christian College in Montgomery, Alabama announced the forming of Faulkner University. With it they intended five different colleges would either start or merge to come under the umbrella of the new university. One of the five schools was the intention of planting a College of Biblical Studies. To develop the program, the trustees announced the appointment of Wendell Winkler as the new dean of the Alabama Christian College Bible Department. It was to be his work to plan and help bring into place the new School of Biblical Studies. So the family moved from their Texas home to live in their new home state of Alabama, a state where he would live the remainder of his life.
Wendell Winkler was a wonderful illustrator and tremendous writer. He wrote a series of Bible Study materials under the series: Sound Doctrine For Everyday Living. Some of the titles in this series were Heart Diseases And Their Cure, Studying Sin Seriously, and The Church Everybody Is Talking About. While directing the annual lectures at Brown Trail, two volumes he edited stand out as the best selling and most distributed volumes of the history of the school under the titles, "Difficult Texts of the Old Testament Explained," and "Difficult Texts of the New Testament Explained." Both are still in print as of this writing. He personally wrote eleven volumes. Articles written by him appeared in most all brotherhood papers including: Spiritual Sword, Gospel Advocate, Firm Foundation, World Evangelist, Gospel Light, 20th Century Christian, Christian Worker, Words Of Truth and others.
For the next nine years Wendell Winkler trained young men and women in the study of the Bible. He continued through those years to be involved in meeting work and appearing on numerous lectureships each year. At the end of the 1994 school year he officially retired from full time work. He and his Betty moved from Montgomery to make their home in Tuscaloosa, Alabama where their son Tim lives. They began attending the Northport congregation, where brother Winkler taught a weekly Bible class.
During his last years at Faulkner University brother Winkler came to find that he was suffering with cancer in one of his kidneys. It was removed. Within a couple years more surgery was needed. Upon retirement from Faulkner, the Winklers moved to Tuscaloosa, gave their youngest son, Dr. Tim Winkler, the ability to oversee his cancer treatments. After a series of treatments, doctors determined the cancer to be in remission.
For the next few years, Brother Winkler continued appearing on lectureships and teaching in special program. He reduced some of his gospel meeting work, but was always ready for an opportunity to preach.
In 2005 the cancer returned, and as so often is the case, it took its toll on the life of this man of God. Finally on Sunday, October 23, 2005 the life of Charles Wendell Winkler slipped away into eternity. The funeral took place at the Northport church building the following Tuesday. Burial followed at Memory Hill Gardens in Tuscaloosa. He was survived by Betty, his wife of fifty-six years; his three sons, Dan, Mike and Tim; eight grandchildren; eleven great-grandchildren; and his older brother Paul of Fort Worth, Texas.
Thus ended the life of a great man of God, who for sixty-one of his seventy-four years preached the gospel of Christ. He was the son of a preacher, the father of two preachers, Dan and Mike, and the grandfather of at least one preacher, Dan's son, Matthew. Others in the family have and do preach occasionally. He was a preacher's preacher. He trained preachers and church leaders. He was a university professor and an evangelist in high demand throughout the nation. His departure was a hard thing for all who knew and loved him.
Upon a granite bench near his grave are the words, "A Friend Of Preachers."