Former DC Councilwoman, Nadine P. Winter passed graciously on Aug. 26 at her southwest home with her family at her side. A four-time cancer survivor, Winter prided herself in beating the odds, and preached to others, “catch the cancer early by going for screenings.”
Winter was elected to the Council of the District of Columbia in 1974 and reelected in 1978, 1982 and 1986. She served as the chairperson pro tempore, the chairperson of the Housing Committee, and a member of numerous other council committees. She represented the council on the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation board of directors and the Council of Governments.
Winter served four times as delegate to the Democratic National Convention; was the former chairperson of the District of Columbia Political Education Council; co-chaired the city-wide task force on truancy; and was a member of the D.C. Women’s Political Caucus, The National Democratic Women’s Club, and numerous other political, social and civic associations. She has received more than 200 awards, citations and certificates for outstanding achievement. She was elected the elector for Democratic President Nominee in 1986 and year 2000.
Born to Elnora Kenyon Poole and Sam Poole in New Bern, N.C., March 3, 1924, Winter was recognized as a community activist and organizer at a very young age when she helped found Winston-Salem’s first Black Girl Scout Troop.
Winter graduated from Atkins High School in Winston-Salem, attended Hampton Institute and received a Bachelor of Arts Degree after transferring to Brooklyn College. Winter lived in a multi-ethnic community in Brooklyn, NY, where she founded a store-front community service agency and worked nights to complete her education. After moving to the District of Columbia permanently in 1947, she graduated from Cortez Peters Business School and later received a Master of Arts degree from Federal City College.
Winter was the founder and former executive director of Hospitality House, a non-profit social action and social service agency that served the underprivileged residents of near northeast/southeast Washington for more than 20 years. Under her leadership Hospitality House conducted day care activities for youth and senior citizens and received national recognition for establishing the first recognized temporary shelter for homeless families.
Winter occasionally would pull out pictures showing how Hospitality House volunteers would set up brick ovens in the alley for families to cook when they had none. “Smith family up first, Robinson family will be next,” she would exclaim, reminding Black people that we had it hard in the ‘50s.
Perhaps her most noteworthy achievement was the successful fight to initiate urban homesteading, providing a model program for the District of Columbia and other jurisdictions.
Winter served as a consultant on housing projects, both in the United States and Europe and was recognized as a lecturer and author; some of her articles on social problems have appeared in national publications. She was one of the original organizers of the National Welfare Rights Organization and operated a free employment and counseling service for the under and unemployed residents.
Winter is founder and president of Health Outreach Information Network, Inc. (HOIN, Inc.), a non-profit agency that performs outreach services on health issues in the poorest areas of the District. Winter and her volunteers would walk the streets of northeast going into barber shops and beauty salons teaching cancer prevention and detection.
“My mother just wanted to be known as an advocate for the poor and as a person who loved to serve others,” said Reginald Winter, her only surviving son. Another son, Alan Winter passed in 1995.
Winter would always tell the story of when she met former mayor and Councilman Marion S. Barry. “He was a smart country boy who needed some city clothes. So I bought him some and fed him too,” she said in 2007 at a luncheon to honor cancer survivors.
Barry never forgot Winter’s sincere generosity and said more people who have been blessed should be more like her. “Nadine is a unique individual that God put on this earth to serve the most needy, poor, left out and locked out. She had a heart for caring and sharing. These are lessons that all of us should live by,” said Barry of his dear friend.
Winter’s body will lie in state from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Sept. 1, at the John H. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.