ACTION Remembers Winstone

Ashton Wingate — October 12, 2011 – 12:34 pm

ACTION remembers Winstone as a friend, colleague,  and tireless advocate. Here, staff and partners reflect on Winstone’s life and work through personal stories and memories.

“Winstone was among the most courageous, life-affirming advocates I have ever known. As the first person to go public with his HIV status in Zambia, Winstone encountered much prejudice and some outright violence in taking that stance. But he persisted and was in the forefront of efforts to change attitudes and mobilize a national and global response.

“Many of us at RESULTS know Winstone best for his passionate global advocacy to address the massive neglect of the dual epidemic of TB-HIV. Winstone lost all four of his brothers to TB; that and his own experience with TB drove him to begin speaking out. He brought these issues to donor capitals and news outlets around the world, and even when he was feeling physically weak, he pushed himself and pushed policymakers and the world to pay attention. Many of us were privileged to be his partner in these efforts.

“Among Winstone’s most remarkable qualities was that his challenges and losses never turned him bitter, but instead fueled his drive to make change and his ability to eloquently call the world to account and action. Winstone radiated an enormously positive energy.  As we mourn his death, the most fitting tribute will be to transmute our sadness into action and redouble our efforts to end these epidemics.”

 -Joanne Carter, RESULTS/RESULTS Educational Fund Executive Director

“Winstone, thank you for who you were. I will never forget the tireless HIV positive activist and TB survivor and lover of McDonalds hamburgers and Jimi Hendrix, who often changed the direction of my day. You knew and taught the value of a shared struggle, of turning personal tragedy into positive action, of valuing the contributions of those who had so much more than you, and those who had nothing. And it mattered. Your life mattered so much and to so many.”

-Kolleen Bouchane, ACTION Director

“Winstone was the kind of person who had a humble rightness in his soul. Despite all the setbacks life threw his way, he just kept on doing what was right. He kept speaking, and travelling, and doing, even when the easy path was to be quiet, to stay home, to rest - because that was the right thing to do. This simple dedication to doing what was right is a moving example of how a life lived well can change the world.”

-Aaron Oxley, RESULTS UK Executive Director

“He lived his life as a fighter - knowing that even though it was hard, that he had to keep on speaking out and keep on removing the next barrier to justice and opportunity. He ran the good race and ran it hard - he’s an improbable top finisher because of sheer will and God’s guidance.”

 -Ken Patterson, RESULTS Global Grassroots Manager

“The first time I met Winstone was last summer in DC. He had some free time, so I brought him out to brunch with my friends. They were surprised how someone who has been through so much hardship could be so positive…and funny! I have pet turtles, and Winstone always joked about how he wanted to use them to make turtle soup. He said, “Where I come from, what you have for a pets are what we call a delicacy.” Winstone’s legs were paralyzed from a childhood battle with polio so he was very passionate about improving the lives of children with disabilities. This year, he opened a school for children with physical disabilities in his hometown - over 54 students are currently enrolled. Winstone was the most amazing human being I’ve ever met. The world has lost a true angel.”

-Mandy Slutsker, ACTION Senior Project Associate

“Winstone was the first TB-HIV patient advocate I met, and I have never felt more humbled or inspired by a single person. I often look at the photo I took with him in Zambia when I’m feeling like this boulder we are pushing isn’t getting any lighter or the hill any less steep - the photo reminds me that one single person really can change hearts, minds, and the world.”

-Jennifer Maurer, RESULTS Senior Policy Associate

“What a light he was. I remember a fantastic junket with Winstone, cracking up over and over again as we drove around Indiana and Ohio; rejoicing with him over a U2 costume/guitar sighting and watching him delight in the Jimi Hendrix exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; finally finding new rubber ends for his walking sticks; witnessing him inspire the Indy Star to speak out on TB/HIV . . . I’ll never forget all of that.  I still have my Hall of Fame wristband on my desk. Rest in peace, Winstone.”

-Lisa Marchal, RESULTS Global Grassroots Associate

“I had the extreme pleasure to travel across the country three times with Winstone doing meetings with editors and members of Congress. The first thing that comes to mind when I think about Winstone is his humor and his love of music. Sure he was a first rate advocate for TB/HIV, but boy could that guy talk your ear off about Jimi Hendrix. On one of our trips he was able to stay with us near Seattle and we were able to take him to the Jimi Hendrix museum at the Experience Music Project in Seattle. It was such a pleasure to be his guide and friend on these trips. And, he was so much more than an advocate for TB/HIV; he was a fierce advocate for all people with disabilities of any kind. He was a loving father and husband and whenever we traveled together we spent much of our time talking about our families. My children, although they only spent a short amount of time with him, still tell stories about his visits. Winstone, for those of us who were lucky enough to know him, was quite a memorable character. One of my favorite quotes from him was when he was traveling from the U.S. to Canada and then off to Japan for a media tour and I commented on how much he was doing and how hard that much traveling must be on him. He looked right at me smiling and said, ‘Stacy, there will be plenty of time to sleep when we die.’ Goodnight my friend, sleep well, you will be missed.”

-Stacy Carkonen, former RESULTS Global Grassroots Manager

“About a month after I started at RESULTS, I began setting up a visit for Winstone to come to Ottawa. I was new to the world of TB and I had never met Winstone, but heard that not only was he brilliant but he was a hoot, full of vim and vigour and passion and that he was exactly the right person to help us have the conversation about TB-HIV co-infection with Canadian parliamentarians. And he was. When he finally arrived in Ottawa at the end of nearly a month of travels, he was not feeling very well but insisted the show go on. He must have met 15 parliamentarians and officials at CIDA and some of the prime ministers office in about 2.5 days. I watched him deliver passionate speeches to MP after MP about why Canada needs to address TB-HIV co-infection. Winstone taught me that to be a powerful advocate, you speak from the heart and while it’s always good to have a few facts to back you up, the stories of people’s lives and experiences are what impact people. As Winstone and I waited in between meetings, we talked a lot about our hopes for the future. I’ll never forget the look in his eyes when he spoke about his wife Vivian; passion was not something Winstone reserved only for issues and campaigns. I think maybe that is why Winstone was so powerful as an advocate; his passion was so true, so obviously from the heart and so very much for others as much as for himself. My deepest sympathies to Vivian and their children at this time; know that your RESULTS family in Canada mourns your loss.”

-Katy Kydd Wright, RESULTS Canada Director of Campaigns

“I remember the first time I met Winstone; that was in 1994 during the 10th International AIDS Conference in Yokohama. He was one of the only openly HIV+ activists in Africa. I remember his courageous and powerful speeches during sessions and in front of the press, despite strong stigmatization. I remember our first discussions on the deadly duo TB and HIV, even at a time where nobody was talking about it. I remember him instantly becoming a TB and HIV advocate. Twelve years later, I remember him receiving the Kochon Prize at the Union Conference in Paris, still advocating for TB with the same and so powerful energy. Winstone, our friend in the fight for access to health for all, we will miss you.”

 -Patrick Bertrand, Global Health Advocates Coordinator/Principal Partner