Russell and Sue Winter’s relationship first began during Spring Break, 1971 in Daytona Beach, Florida. Both students, unfamiliar with the other, attended Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia. Sue and her Delta Zeta sorority sisters and Russell and his Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity brothers hopped into their respective cars and headed for the beach that March.
A chance encounter one night at a party would change their lives forever. After seeing Sue for the first time, Russell told one of his fraternity brothers, “Alex, I want a date with her.”
Sue recalled, “My sorority sister, Nancy, and Alex were dating at the time. Since money was tight, the following evening, our first date was a double date with Nancy and Alex at the local McDonalds. I still razz Russell about that to this day!” She laughed.
The Winter’s said, “I do” in July of the following year and celebrated their forty-fifth wedding anniversary last year with their three children and six grandchildren, ranging in age from two to eighteen years old.
What is the key to their successful marriage?
“Marriage is a life-long commitment. It never occurred to us not to make it work. I believe that compromise, the ability to put the other first, being able to see your spouse’s point of view and work through conflict, as well as putting the family first are key components to a successful marriage,” said Sue. She added, “It’s about doing what’s best for the family and creating memories together.” Russell agreed.
Sue, a former Dekalb County high school teacher, taught interior design for several years. These skills came in handy when she and Russell were invited by a friend who was awarded the decorating contract for the White House to be volunteers, helping decorate the White House for Christmas, not once, but twice during President Obama’s term in 2010 and 2013.
“Russell is so handy. He can do almost anything! We decorated trees in the Great Hall, helped create and deliver floral arrangements. I made the arrangement that was placed at the visitor’s entrance. We even carried thirty feet of garland over our shoulders like a conga line of volunteers from the east to the west wing to hang in the Oval Office. I was first through the Oval office doors and quickly ushered out by the Secret Service until the area was cleared! We even helped decorate the Roosevelt Room, the Vice President’s office, the Cabinet Room, and the family residence. I became known as the ‘Bow Lady’ because I loved making beautiful big bows. It was such a memorable and fabulous experience.”
What advice does the Winter’s have for the younger generation?
“Be kind and considerate of each other. You don’t have to be right all the time. Learn to swallow your words, so arguments don’t escalate. Give and take - figure out what works best for your relationship. Getting married is easy; staying married is the hard part.”
The retired Grayson residents are very thankful and appreciate their love-filled years together. “Russell made a career in manufacturing and started a consulting company, R&S Consulting, and I kick-started my own travel company last year called R&S Travel. We feel very blessed. We have wonderful children and grandchildren, and we are very proud of them.” Sue’s ninety-three-year-old mother, Mimi, has made her home with them for the last twenty years and she and Russell have a very close relationship.
The Winter’s love to spend time on their boat, vacation, and travel and look forward to continuing to create new adventures and memories together as a family.