Philip James Van Winkle
Philip James Van Winkle
  • February 15, 1927 - January 3, 2018
  • Winter Garden, Florida

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Philip James VanWinkle, age 90, passed away Wednesday, January 3, 2018. Born February 15, 1927 to Gladys and James VanWinkle in Janesville, Wisconsin. He was a devoted husband of 68 years to the love of his life, Nancy, loving father to his children Philip, James (Mike) and Sherri, an adoring grandfather to Christine, Catherine and Allison and loving great-grandfather with child-like enthusiasm to great grandchildren Dalton, Kylee, Landon, Grace and Sophia.

He graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Geography and a minor in English from Southern Illinois University and obtained a Masters Degree in Geography from the University of Illinois. He served in the US Army Calvary during World War II and the Army National Guard. He had a great love of flying airplanes and joined the Civil Air Patrol in 1952 for which he flew rescue missions for nearly 20 years. As he got older, as part of the Civil Air Patrol, he would take Boy Scouts flying on weekends to instill his love of flying in the hearts of young boys. Over his life he owned several airplanes including a Skymaster which he and Nancy flew to Alaska for several months in 1993. For his 90th birthday a pilot friend, Don Driggers, took him flying allowing him to pilot a plane for the last time.

Phil worked for the Navy Hydrographic Department, McDonald-Douglas and Martin Marietta before starting his own RV business, Leisure Time RV, in Orlando in 1970. He was an early pioneer in the RV industry and a founding member of the Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA). Leisure Time RV operated successfully as a family business for 46 years until it closed in 2016. Phil was raised in the farming life in McLeansboro, Illinois, but he was an adventurer and his involvement in the RV business allowed him and Nancy to travel and see the world, visiting over 30 countries including China, India, Japan, South Africa, many European countries and even took a photo safari in Kenya.

Phil was an intelligent and compassionate person who mentored several Vietnam veterans who struggled in their lives from PTSD and he was always willing to help homeless and lost souls who crossed his path. He had a wonderful sense of humor and loved to laugh and would sometimes instigate things with little pranks. His wife, Nancy, always said her life was never boring because there was nothing Phil was afraid to do or try. We know he is at peace flying high now in heaven.