Richard A. Winsche, 1934 – 2019
Trustee Richard Winsche died on April 11, 2019 at
the age of 84. He was a long-time member of the Society
who was elected a trustee in 2013 in the Class of 2018. He
wanted to resign in 2018 when his term expired because
he was no longer able to drive at night to attend board
meetings, but his expertise was too valuable to lose and he was re-elected to the Board in 2018.
A life-long resident of Bellerose Terrace in Nassau County, he attended Sewanhaka High School in Floral Park. He graduated from Adelphi University in 1957 with a B.A. in history and government and received his M.A. in American history from Long Island University in 1969.
Richard Winsche’s career with the Nassau County Division of Museum Services began in 1960 as a curator and then historian. He was based at the Museum in Eisenhower Park and from 1985 until he retired in 1992 at the Long Island Studies Institute at Hofstra University. He administered the Museum’s reference library and archival collections, researched and wrote reports on all historic sites and buildings administered by Nassau County (including those at Old Bethpage Village Restoration), and prepared forms for the National Register of Historic Places. He saved thousands of estate photographs by Mattie Edwards Hewitt (1869-1956), distributing some to more appropriate archives (e.g. Planting Fields Foundation Archives in Oyster Bay).
After freezing the first time he was asked to speak before an audience, he refused to give talks, though he always shared interesting stories in conversation. He was an excellent researcher. And his legacy of research and writings on Nassau County history is evidenced in part by the list of his publications below. He researched the old-fashion way, using books, articles, documents, and microfilms. Richard particularly enjoyed using newspapers. He poured through hundreds of reels of microfilm (working before they were digitized) and compiled his own card indexes. He sometimes chose offbeat topics to research.
Richard Winsche wrote many articles on local history, including fifteen published in the Nassau County Historical Society Journal, which should be available on our web site soon. He is the author of The History of Nassau County Community Place-Names, the definitive work on the subject (1999). His research and writings are lasting contributions to Nassau County history. Richard was an excellent researcher.
Richard possessed an invaluable institutional memory of Nassau County’s Museum properties and historic buildings in the county. He had a deep and wide-ranging knowledge of Nassau County’s history. When I received a question I could not answer, I would call Richard who invariably was able to help me. He made lasting contributions to Nassau County’s history.
Richard did not marry. He is survived by his niece, Susan Alessi, and his many friends who cherish their memories of him.
Publications on Local History by Richard A. Winsche
(in chronological order)
“Nassau’s Heritage in Documents.” Nassau County Historical Society Journal (hereafter cited as NCHS Journal) 23, no. 4 (1962): 23-24.
“Echoes of Belmont Park.” NCHS Journal 25, no. 2 (Spring 1964): 15-33. “Reminiscences of ‘The Old Brig.’” NCHS Journal 26, no. 2 (Summer-Fall 1965): 32-48.
“Newspapers as a Neglected Source.” Journal of Long Island History 6 (Summer 1966): 15-28.
“The Progressive Party in Nassau County.” NCHS Journal 32, no. 2 (1972):15-27. “The Jericho Historic Preserve.” NCHS Journal 39 (1984): 1-14.
“Bloodgood Haviland Cutter, The Long Island Farmer Poet.” NCHS Journal 45 (1990): 13-27.
“The Evolution of the Gould/Guggenheim Estate at Sands Point,” with Gary R. Hammond. In Long Island: The Suburban Experience, ed. Barbara M. Kelly, pp. 39-49. Interlaken, NY: Hearts of the Lakes Publishing/Hofstra University, 1990.
“Thomas W. Murphy: The Wizard of the Reins.” NCHS Journal 51 (1996): 19-29,
The History of Nassau County Community Place-Names. Interlaken, NY: Empire State Books/Hofstra University, 1999.
“When Nassau Supplied Brooklyn’s Water.” In Nassau County: From Rural Hinterland to Suburban Metropolis, ed. Joann P. Krieg and Natalie A. Naylor, pp. 150-57. Interlaken NY: Empire State Books and Hofstra University, 2000.
“Bret Harte and ‘The Legend of Glen Head.’” NCHS Journal 55 (2000): 22-26.
“Jacques Lebaudy: Nassau County’s “Emperor of Sahara.” NCHS Journal 57 (2002): 28-37.
“Nassau County’s Forgotten Gambling Scandal.” NCHS Journal 59 (2004): 35-46. Reprinted (with additional photographs) in the Oyster Bay Historical Society’s Freeholder, 2 parts, 13, no. 1 (Summer 2008): 6-9; and 13, no. 2 (Winter 2009): 6-9.
“Charles Weir Beall and Frank Buck’s Jungle Camp.” NCHS Journal 61 (2006): 37-44.
“General Joseph Hooker’s Long Island Years, 1874-1879.” NCHS Journal 62 (2007): 22-29.
“Oyster Bay’s Octagon Hotel.” NCHS Journal 63 (2008): 17-27. Reprinted (with additional photographs) in the Oyster Bay Historical Society’s Freeholder (with additional photographs), 13, no. 4 (Spring 2009): 3-9, 16-17, 22, 24.
“The Ku Klux Klan in Nassau County in the 1920s.” NCHS Journal 67 (2012): 23-30. “Foxhall P. Keene and His ‘Life of Pure Delight.’” NCHS Journal 68 (2013): 15-21.
—Natalie A. Naylor
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