By Tammye McDuff
EDITOR’S NOTE: Former Downey Mayor and Councilman Robert C. Winningham passed away in the morning hours of Tuesday, April 28, 2015. The following article was written after the April 14 City Council meeting.The family would like to extend an invitation to those friends and colleagues’ for a Celebration of Life Tuesday, May 5, 2015, 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm at the Rio Hondo Event Center. Winningham will be inducted into the Downey High School Hall of Fame June 5, 2015.
Former Downey Mayors and Downey Unified School District board members gathered at the council meeting April 14, 2015 to honor Bob Winningham. Councilmember Roger Brossmer called Winningham “the best and most favored Mayor of all time.”
Former Mayor Kirk Cartozian stated, “we are living, working and enjoying this great city of ours, but it wasn’t always like that. We have had our bumps in the road. Bob was the man that got us through it all.” Cartozian stated that Council doesn’t always get the credit they deserve and often get blamed for things they don’t do, however Winningham was a man who knew how to be a good Councilman, knew how to deal with residents and colleagues and knew how to be a great Mayor, “He also knew how to get thing done,” continued Cartozian “there has been no greater one term Councilman or Mayor than Bob. I am excited that the current Council has taken the opportunity to recognize a man who has mentored many and served this city with greatness.”
Winningham was instrumental in regeneration Downtown Downey and Downey Avenue. He was a member of the Downtown Subcommittee that saw to it that benches, landscaping and lighting were installed. He was also influential in getting the Barbara J. Riley center built and named. Riley devoted much time to public service, donating time and resources to the Assistance League of Downey, Downey Chamber of Commerce, PTA HELPS, Downey First Christian Church, Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center, Downey Coordinating Council, and others.
Former Mayor Meredith Perkins held a pseudo ‘roast’ for Winningham, recalling the many times the two would spend Sunday afternoons going over the numerous plans they had for the city or simply kicking back and playing pranks on one another. Perkins recalls, “We had some great times. I remember coming out of closed session at one point and finding a telephone book on my chair,” Perkins chuckled saying “I don’t know where bob got the idea I was that little!”
Winningham was helpful in many new ideas. Barbara J. Riley, or the cookie lady as Council referred to her as, was also Mayor of Downey in 1992. Riley was a champion for the community and establishing a senior center, which was named in her honor following her death in 2001.
Perkins complimented Winningham saying he was the ‘go to’ man for support “People don’t remember what you say or what you do, but they remember how they made you feel. Bob has made many people feel like a million bucks. And I am one of those fortunate men.” Winningham served on the boards of Indian Guides, YMCA, and little league making a difference in the lives of Downey youth.
Mayor Luis Marquez bestowed a Certificate of Recognition and presented Winningham with a Tile of Honor saying, “it is truly an honor to recognize you and your commitment to this City. Your outstanding record of conduct has made you a Council member of distinguished caliber. We appreciate and commend you for your service.”
Robert C. Winningham served as Mayor 1994-1995 and 1997-1998.