Obituary : J. Robert Windsor
A broadcasting pioneer of Martha's Vineyard has died. J. Robert Windsor succumbed to lung cancer at his home in Washington, D.C., on January 25. Born in New York City on November 5, 1936, he was the son of attorney John Dryden Windsor, and Helen Johnson Windsor, a gifted pianist and instructor at The Juilliard School. Bob attended The Collegiate School in New York City, Johns Hopkins University, and the International Language Program at Yale University, where he became fluent in Mandarin. He married Marianne Evkovich on April 4, 1964, in Ashtabula, Ohio at St. Paul's Episcopal Church.
Bob, also known as J.R., began his distinguished broadcasting career in the U.S. Air Force serving as a radio man and Chinese linguist based in Taiwan from 1957 to 1960, eavesdropping on Chinese communications during the Cold War. On return, he was stationed in Selma, Ala., where he first covered the Civil Rights Movement. Bob ended his tour of duty in Washington, D.C., in 1963 and got a job with a small local FM station - WASH, in Wheaton, Md., that played mostly country music.
In the 1960s he worked as a radio and television news correspondent for WTOP in Washington, D.C. He then joined ABC Television Network News and later became one of the voices of ABC Radio Network Information News, covering national and international headlines. From Washington, he extensively reported on the social movements and unrest of that decade, the Vietnam protests and the marches led by Dr. Martin Luther King. His interviews included pivotal political figures including Congressman Adam Clayton Powell (NY), Senator Everett Dirksen (IL), and Senator Robert Byrd (WV).
In 1970, Bob and his family moved to Edgartown and built their home. He was instrumental in building and licensed the first FM radio station on Martha's Vineyard, WVOI, Voice of the Islands. He got his friends to record station breaks, his wife to read commercials, and his children gave the nightly sign-off before the bagpipes played. Bob became a big supporter of high school sports teams and followed them on the road to broadcast the games. At VOI, he was a one-man team, the station's programmer, manager, marketing and sales director, and on air personality when needed. He interviewed local celebrities like James Taylor and Carly Simon. Today the station is called WMVY.
On Martha's Vineyard Bob pursued his life-long love of sailing, started when he and his mother summered in Edgartown in the 1940s. He also performed with local drama groups and served on the vestry of St. Andrews Episcopal Church.
The Windsor family moved to Madison, N.J., and he returned to work at the Manhattan studios of ABC Radio in the late 1970s. He later became an independent award-winning producer of documentaries focusing on medicine and disease, recognized by the American College of Medicine for his work on topics including brachytherapy, prostate cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and kidney disease.
In the 1990s, Bob and Marianne moved to Washington, D.C., where they enjoyed a partnership in residential real estate sales as The Windsor Team. He joined the Capitol Hill Chorale and performed with the group for more than 10 years and served on the board of directors. Throughout his life Bob continued supporting The Collegiate School and served as the head of fundraising for the Class of 1954. He enjoyed traveling with his wife, visiting with their grandchildren, and recording all the memories as the official family videographer.
J.R. Windsor is survived by his wife of 46 years, Marianne Windsor of Washington; his son and daughter-in-law Mark and Katy Windsor, and their children Helen, Maud, and Oliver of Pasadena, Calif., and his daughter and son in-law, Robin and Tony Petrossian and Ruby of Bellevue, Wash. A memorial service will be held this spring at St. Andrew's Church in Edgartown.