498. NSB executive secretary Sandy Winkler community inspiration in support of late husband's cancer battle

Top 500 Newsmakers of Central Florida / Headline Surfer®
Sandy Winkler and daughter stand on fire truck named after late husband, who died of cancer / Headline Surfer®The Winkler family of Southeast Volusia / Headline Surfer®Photos for Headline Surfer® /
Sandy Winkler, a longtime New Smyrna Beach city employee, stands on the front bumper of a city fire truck, re-painted in pink and named for her late husband, Paul, who succumbed to cancer in December, after a 10-month battle.
 

NEW SMYRNA BEACH -- Sandy Winkler, the longtime executive secretary in the city's manager office, has a comforting expression on her Facebook page that reads: "When God closes one door, he opens another."

Winkler has been a loyal and dedicated municipal employee since 1978. She's gone about her job and stayed clear of the small-town politics over the years. Winkler a private, but friendly person has other expressions, too like "Focus on the Good" and "I am thankful -- for my blessings are too many to count."

Such expressions are clearly Winkler's way of letting others know in a reassuring way that she has learned to cope and move forward, considering last year, life threw her the ultimate curve: Her husband, Paul, a master carpenter and member of Servants’ Quarters Fellowship of Edgewater/New Smyrna Beach, was diagnosed with brain cancer on Feb. 13.

Paul Winkler, the consummate outdoorsman who enjoyed fishing and hunting, and was a member of the National Rifle Association and Samsula Hunt Club, died on Dec. 12. He was just 54 years old.

But during that precious time with her husband and their grown daughter, Brandy Nicole; Sandy Winkler, the matriarch, was the glue in the trio fighting the disease together.

During that time and since her husband's passing, Sandy Winkler has been an inspiration to her co-workers at City Hall and people in Southeast Volusia who have known the Winklers over the years with her city employment dating back to 1978.

Sandy Winkler with her daughter, Brandy, and late husband, Paul. / Headline Surfer®The Winklers together in March 2013, one month into his battle with cancer that would ultimately take him from his wide, Sandy, and daughter, Brandy.
 
City Manager Pam Brangaccio did not return messages for comment on Winkler who works for her in her office.
 

Nancy Hagood, wife of former New Smyrna Beach City Manager John Hagood, who has known Winkler for nearly 30 years, said she is constantly amazed at her unbelievable strength, which she harnesses from her Christian faith.

"She is a very very strong woman," Hagood said. "I wish I had her strength and stamina. She has a good head on her shoulders and is a real person."

Nancy Hagood of New Smyrna Beach / Headline Surfer®Nancy Hagood, wife of former New Smyrna Beach City Manager John Hagood, who has known Sandy Winkler for nearly 30 years, said she is constantly amazed at her unbelievable strength, which she harnesses from her Christian faith.

"She is a very very strong woman," Hagood said. "I wish I had her strength and stamina. She has a good head on her shoulders and is a real person."

The city's fire department paid homage to Sandy Winkler and her daughter for their brave fight side by side with the loving husband and father during those 10 precious months, by having a fire truck re-painted in pink with Paul Winkler's name affixed to it. Mother and daughter were invited to a dedication shortly after Paul Winker's passing, at Fire Station 51 on Williams Road.

Sandy Winkler was proud of what the fire department had done in her husband's honor, telling the firefighters, "Paul would be proud to have his name on the truck. He would be very happy."

The purpose of the pink truck is to build cancer awareness among the community as crews respond to calls," New Smyrna Beach Fire Chief David McCallister said.

"By dedicating it to Paul, we not only are remembering him, but we're also continuing to build that awareness while thanking him for his inspiration," McAllister said.

The pink fire engine program was spearheaded two years ago by firefighter Tom Bull, a driver/engineer. Originally intended to raise breast cancer awareness, the program has evolved into total cancer awareness.

Citizens may sign the vehicle to honor anyone who has been impacted by the disease. Over the past two years, the city has partnered with the New Smyrna Beach Professional Firefighters Local 2271 to transform this truck into a rolling monument. Thousands of names of survivors and lost loved ones cover the truck.

Sandy Winkler, who lives in Edgewater, is recognized by Headline Surfer as No. 498 in the internet newspaper's ranking of the Top 500 Newsmakers of Central Florida; for the courage and inspiration she showed during such a difficult transition in her life, and the example she set for her daughter and countless others.

Top 500 Newsmakers of Central Florida / Headline Surfer®

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Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com since 2008. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed close to a hundred award-winning byline stories narly eveenly split in print and digital platforms. Frederick earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism with academic honors from Full Sail University in Winter Park in February 2019. He was a metro reporter with the Daytona Beach News-Journal for nearly a decade and then served as a city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette in Taunton, Mass, while maintaining a residence in Central Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Frederick was a metro reporter for the Rockland Journal-News in Wst Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.