James Camphor (better known as Winky)

By Beverly Richards
Special to the AFRO

If you are looking for a little inspiration, heartfelt-moments and gut-wrenching laughter, consider the wisdom, warmth and humor of James Camphor (better known as Winky). He entered eternal rest on Jan. 7, leaving behind a chasm in the hearts of his beloved wife Florine “Peaches,” family, and friends from every walk of life. 

Over the span of his 95 years, Winky provided so many pearls of wisdom and oodles of laughable moments. If you called his cell phone, you would hear, “Happiness can be taught, caught or sought, but never bought.” If you talked to him about friendship, he was known to tell you, “Friendship is like a bank account. You can’t continue to make withdrawals without making deposits.” And his zingers included a little love-laced name calling. “He used to call me “jive turkey.” He called me that so much, that when I was younger, I thought that was my name,” said his grandson Brandon Camphor jokingly. 

An educator by profession, Winky unreservedly provided lessons that were applicable to the young and young at heart. N. Scott Phillips, longtime friend and fraternity brother said, “I learned all kinds of lessons from Winky. Number one was that family always comes first. Two, friendship is vital; and three, to put my money where my beliefs are.” Tara Turner, assistant vice president for advancement, Coppin State University watched the elder sage live out these lessons. “Winky was a humanitarian, giving of his time and treasure. He was a constant friend, always a reliable support. And selfless. He was more concerned with how he could contribute to make something better than what he got out of it,” she shared with admiration. 

Winky was notorious for his witticism or “Winky-isms.” His brothers of Phi Beta Sigma were all too happy to provide a running list. “Don’t be like me; be better than me.” And his grandson wasn’t the only “jive turkey,” When you didn’t agree with him you were one, but when you did, well, it was “cool beans’ or you were a “cool turkey.”

Both Winky and Peaches have been described as a “hoot.” When they were together, you were assured a good time. And if they double teamed you, Lord help you. Close friend, Mary Wanza, shared a gut-busting story about the Camphor’s teamwork. Names have been left out to protect the innocent. Peaches and Winky arrived at Coppin and parked in a reserved space. Said owner was so incensed about his space being taken, and proceeded to look for Winky.  When he found him, the outraged fellow began to hurl expletives at Winky trying to engage him in a slugfest. Winky, though he was a gentleman, was not afraid of a fight. Just as the two were about to duke it out, Peaches came running. However, someone interceded. But when Peaches was asked what she was going to do, her response was, “I was going to hold him while Winky whipped him.” And this was when Winky was in his eighties.

Winky was a love letter from God. He was a living epistle from heaven. The only way he knew how to treat you was with love. At no time was he overheard speaking an unkind word and he didn’t speak ill of others. “Winky lived his life according to biblical principles, following the Golden Rule, “…do to others what you would have them do to you…,” said his wife, Peaches. “He said his mother taught him that. He had the wisdom of Solomon, the passion of David, and even the faithfulness of Noah. He did whatever God told him to do,” she continued.

Winky will be sorely missed. And though he may be physically gone, he will not be forgotten. “Winky is the bar that people will be compared to; that’s part of his legacy,” said Dr. Anthony L. Jenkins, president, Coppin State University. “He was extraordinary. And as long as we will be able to remember, people will sit back and pass along stories about Winky.” 

Services for Winky are as follows:
Friday, February 4, 2022
Public Viewing
Wayland Baptist Church
3200 Garrison Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21216

Saturday, February 5, 2022
Coppin State University Arena
Public Viewing

Omega Service
Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity

Celebration of Life Service

In lieu of flowers, the family would like contributions to be made to the Coppin State University Development Foundation, Incorporated in Winky’s memory.

Make checks payable to: CSUDF
Mail to: 2500 W. North Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21216
Memo: Dr. James Camphor Fund
Or go online to igfn.us/form/y_NKCw (if it’s included in a digital version, use this link)