On June 15, Phil Winther’s contributions to the La Porte City community will be formally recognized when he is presented with the 2017 Jesse Wasson Award.
Established in 1980, the Jesse Wasson Award was created to honor members of the community who have distinguished themselves as caring, committed citizens who are dedicated to community betterment. The award is named after the City’s founder, Dr. Jesse Wasson, who served the community in a variety of roles, including physician, Justice of the Peace, Postmaster, newspaper publisher and mayor.
Phil began his career in education with La Porte City Community Schools in 1969, prior to the district’s merger with Dysart in 1989. As a guidance counselor, he first worked with students at the elementary and junior high school levels before becoming the Counselor at Union High School. The Dollars for Scholars was first established through Phil’s office, with other committee members Kathy Lee, LeAnn Craft, and Mark Monroe.
In addition to his teaching duties, Phil coached baseball and basketball. In the early 1970s, he was instrumental in helping create the girls basketball program in La Porte City, serving as the new program’s first coach. Phil also coached La Porte City High School baseball for several years, and took the team to State in 1974. He eventually worked as a referee throughout the northeast portion of the state.
As a present and longtime member of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, Phil served in many areas of the church. He also taught the high school Sunday School class for over 10 years.
In addition to his work in schools and church, Phil also operated a real estate business, advocating on behalf of the community while selling houses to the families that would call La Porte City home.
As a business owner and community volunteer, Phil’s contributions to La Porte City have impacted the city in many other ways. It was his passion for athletics that inspired a new business featuring athletic gear such as t-shirts, sweatshirts and shoes. What began as a shop called “Sportabout” eventually became the Gregg’s Sporting Goods store that remains a fixture at the corner of Commercial and Main in downtown La Porte City.
Phil also served as a Trustee for the La Porte City library during an exciting time in the library’s history, helping plan and construct Hawkins Memorial Library, a new facility that has served Main Street patrons for more than 30 years.
He also served was a member of the La Porte City Fire/Rescue Department for more than 30 years, responding to hundreds of fires and ambulance calls over that time. He also served the department as secretary and treasurer for a time.
The presentation of the Jesse Wasson Award will highlight the kickoff of the Festival of Trails Celebration that begins in the City Park on Thursday, June 15. Heartland Community Church will be sponsoring a Family Fun Night that begins at 5 PM and includes food, games, face painting, inflatables for the kids, a bike parade and Rock Your City, an arts and crafts activity. At 6:45, the Jesse Wasson, Woman of the Year and Business of the Year awards will be presented, followed by a reception where community members may congratulate the honorees. The evening will conclude with music provided by the Heartland Praise Team.