Four score years ago....No, this isn't the beginning of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address but just my way of addressing a significant milestone in a great friend's life. My close friend celebrates his 80th birthday today.
Denny Wintersteen is one of my oldest and yet oldest friends. Simply meaning I have known him most of my life and yep, he's kinda gettin' up there. But you'd never know it. He's one of the most active octogenarians I know. Still playing golf, still an avid photographer and still able to spin tales of his and my childhood growing up in Dayton, Ohio.
Denny is also the older brother of my best friend, Gerry, or as we always knew him, "The Jer".
Denny didn't pay much attention to me or any of the other kids that hung around with "The Jer". It wasn't that he was ignoring us, but there was a number of years difference in age and mostly, Denny was just one of the the coolest if not THE coolest guy I knew back in the 50's and, well, there were more important things than snot-nosed kids. He was probably the only teenager I knew who drove as well as have one the the neatest cars on the street. Sadly, my mind can't remember the make or model but all I remember was that his car was cool and we weren't allowed to touch it let alone ride in it.
Denny has also been my historian.
A couple of years ago I made it my mission to learn about the demise of "The Jer" and then compile and publish many of the short stories I had written about him over the years into a book. After seeking out and finding Denny on Facebook, he graciously spent hours with me on the phone and correspondence as we brought those stories and book into fruition.
Denny has also been the closest of friends when I needed him most.
He and every member of his family reached out to me with the passing of my wife not too long ago, Denny knowing first hand my pain and what such a loss can be like.
Denny has also been a wonderful host each time I have come to Dayton since the resurrecting of our friendship.
Again, his beautiful family along with Denny and his lovely wife, Sue, always making me feel at home as I return to my roots either at a dinner in their home or local restaurants.
And finally Denny always stays in touch with me, whether it be as a recipient of his risqué emails or comments to my Facebook ramblings.
I am fortunate to have him as my friend and I wish him the best on this special day.
"The greatest gift of life is friendship, and I have received it."
Hubert H. Humphrey
Love ya' Denny