We’re Toasting: Our Friend Don

There is something unique, special, magical when you find a person who is a friend to your loved one that makes you feel as special, welcome, and important as their friend. Our friend Don Winspear was that.

My Gary loved Don, we all did, he was easy to love because Don had a wonderful way of making everyone in his presence feel significant.  This week we said goodbye to our friend, earlier than we had hoped, but likely at just the right time.

It wasn’t always the easiest dating Gary in the early years. He was well known in Dallas, a bit of a “celebrity” from his lengthy career at WFAA. So, social events and gatherings in those early years were a bit tough establishing myself with his group of friends and an extensive list of acquaintances.

Enter, Don Winspear. From our earliest cocktail parties, this man who Gary loved so dearly welcomed me with extended open arms. The beauty of Don was the man thrived on great conversation and he was interested in everything. From opera to art to hockey to barbecue, he was an enthusiast with an interest in all information. His passion for travel and a deep love of wine became our instant connection and constant dialogue. The engaging discussions around both will remain a part of my memories.

Some of my favorite times were spent with Don and his wife Ellen. Miss Ellie, as he called her, holding her on a platform that I only dreamed of having. Don and Ellen were two of the few who knew Gary and were going to get married. We had a surprise popup wedding and we filled our friends in early as we asked them to be our witnesses and speak on that special day, as theirs was a marriage similar to what I had hoped and prayed for in ours.

The memories have continued to rise to the top of my mind in the past week – joyful occasions seeing shows at The Winspear, The Granada, and The Kesller, charity events and galas, indulgent evenings of food and wine at their home or ours, Christmas night gatherings playing guitar with my dad, trips to wine country, a luck filled weekend in Vegas where everyone left a winner. But really, my favorite of all was simply opening a great bottle, having a toast and sharing a glass and a chat with our friends.

Don loved premium Champagne, a great Bordeaux, and an old-style Napa Cab. He adored the wines of my friend Robin Lail, raising a glass of her Lail Vineyards J Daniel Cuvee with me on more than one occasion at dinners at one of our favorite Dallas institutions, like Sevy’s or Salum.

So, my friend, as you look down from the heavens, we raise our glasses high in celebration of a life well-lived. I know you are running with the angels, smiling and exalting your contagious laugh that fills a room. Our hearts hurt. But I know you are at peace, and knowing that, we will be too.

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