Wendi Winters, a feature writer for The Capital and The Maryland Gazette who earlier had been a public relations executive in Manhattan, died Thursday in the attack at the Annapolis newspapers’ office.
She was 65 and lived in Edgewater.
Wendy Anne Winters — known throughout the community as “Wendi” — was born in Coronado, Calif., the daughter of Leigh Cosart Winters, a Navy commander and real estate agent, and his wife, Dorothy Breuninger Grigsby, who had worked as a Capitol Hill secretary and was in the visitors’ gallery in December 1941 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress for a declaration of war on Japan.
She attended Saint Rita’s School in Alexandria, Va. and was a 1971 graduate of the old St. Mary’s Academy, a high school also in Alexandria.
“She vividly recollected her semi-nomadic childhood as a Navy brat,” said her daughter, Winters Leigh Geimer. “Her fondest childhood memories were of her family’s time in Turkey when her father was a naval attaché with the American Embassy in Istanbul. She spent most of her time getting in trouble with the local residents and exploring off-limits places.”
“Our mother showed an aptitude for art and writing. At age 10, she wrote a poem for then-President John F. Kennedy and she received a personal response with photographs from his secretary, Evelyn Lincoln,” said her son, Phoenix Winters Geimer. “She kept the photograph near her desk and it has been in the house as long I can remember. She had a couple of recollections of President Kennedy coming into her church.”
She obtained a bachelor of fine arts degree with a specialty in fashion design from Virginia Commonwealth University and later went to New York City on a fellowship to the Tobé-Coburn School for Fashion Careers. She was class president at the school and graduated with honors.
She remained active in alumni circles at Virginia Commonwealth, and was invited there to sit on critic panels of student work at university fashion shows.
In a resume, Ms. Winters said most of her career was in public relations — backed by experience in fashion retailing, wholesaling, textiles, marketing, advertising, design and promotion. She created and directed campaigns for two “international public relations firms and had her own successful fashion public relations, advertising, special events [and] runway show production firm for seven years,” her resume said.
She lived in the Gramercy Park section of New York City and later moved to Montclair, N.J.
“In her New York days her pay often included some of the clothing she was promoting,” said her daughter, a Purdue University student who is a naval officer candidate. “She had a fairly large wardrobe because she didn’t believe in throwing things out. Her fashion aesthetic looked like the 1980s had never ended.”
Her son said Ms. Winters routinely corresponded with figures of the era — including Patty Hearst, Robin Leach, Michael Douglas, the Trumps, Christian Lacroix, Oscar de la Renta, Donna Karan, Iman, Keith Haring, Neil Sedaka, Leroy Neiman, Regis Philbin, Cybill Shepherd, Lionel Hampton and Sally Jessy Raphael.
“She regularly ran into Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali on the street,” said her son.
In 1990, she won the Golden Apple Award, presented by the New York City Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, for a campaign she orchestrated for the Polyester Council of America.
In 1986 she married Tod Geimer, who built computer networks for banks.
He suggested a change of pace and less hectic life in the Annapolis area. They left New Jersey and moved to Arnold in 1999. They later lived in Cape St. Claire.
“My mother always needed to be doing something,” her son said. “She started writing for small local publications.
“Her day’s schedule was filled with so many events,” he said. “You could plan for her showing up late, late — but with a great story to tell. Her daily routine was to wake up at 5:30 a.m. and work and work and work. At midnight she went to bed.”
She wrote on a freelance basis for The Capital and later joined the publication full-time. She often took her own photographs.
Ms. Winters wrote three weekly columns: Around Broadneck, Teen of the Week and Home of the Week.
“My mother learned to type on a manual typewriter and she had a heavy touch. She could wear away the letters on a keyboard. She also typed very fast,” said her daughter. “She also wrote fast.”
She had written for many other publications, including Waterfront Living and Inside Annapolis Magazine, and wrote theater criticism for Theatre Spotlight and The Review and the DC Metro Theatre Arts website. She was a Helen Hayes Awards nominator for two terms.
She was named honorary vice president of her father’s Naval Academy Class of 1940. Family members said she organized the class’s 70th reunion.
Ms. Winters had also been a Girl Scout leader, a church youth adviser and ran an annual Red Cross Blood Drive. She was also a cat fancier and enjoyed roller skating sessions at Wheels Skating Center in Odenton.
“Wendi was always the same as the first day I met her in high school — we were both cast in ‘Witness for the Prosecution,’ ” said Paul Donnelly, a friend who lives in Honolulu, Hawaii.
“She was tall, elegant, self-possessed and dynamic,” Mr. Donnelly said. “She lived life to the fullest and was not one to sit around and watch television. Her writing was meticulous and reflected her personality. She was compassionate about the people she wrote about. It was never a chore for her to write The Teen of the Week column.”
A celebration of life will held at noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, 801 Chase Street in Annapolis. A reception will follow from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis, where she was a member.
In addition to her son and daughter, survivors include two other daughters, Montana Winters Geimer, a Naval Academy graduate who is stationed in Pensacola, Fla., and Summerleigh Winters Geimer of Edgewater, a home remodeling manager; three sisters, Sandra Winters of Key Biscayne, Fla., Dana Rengers of Alexandria, Va., and Debra Winters of Yuma, Ariz. Her marriage ended in divorce.