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Straight No Chaser: My Baby Brother Garson ‘Gary’ Winston Is Gone Home

Gloria Winston

Op/Ed by Gloria Winston –

My Baby Brother, Garson Neil Winston is gone Home to be with our parents James and Wilma Winston and his wife Margaret. I suspected for the last 2 years, after burying his wife Margaret that he longed to be with her. He loved her just that much and vice versa.

My Baby Brother was 6 years younger than me. My parent’s 3 children were 3 years apart. Gary was born in 1951 in Rochester, NY at St. May’s Hospital. He died in his home in Hampton, VA. He was no doubt the baby and could get away with things my brother James and I never thought about. As kids we were raised on Adams Street in the Third Ward aka known as Corn Hill. We called it Camelot—Our diverse neighborhood and our house always resembling the League of Nations was more than a nurturing environment.

Academically I always considered Gary to be a brilliant person. I was no slouch in school but he was extremely bright. He was educated at Nathaniel Rochester School #3 and Madison High School.

As mischievous as he was, my brother as a youngster always relied on his big sister to take care of his light work. I remember him and my brother James often coming home to get their big sister to fight their battles. “One day I fought 3 brothers at the same time and emerged victorious. I never liked bullies and would let them know in a heartbeat. I also recall the day, on his way home from school, he pulled the fire alarm that sat on a pole at the corner of Clarissa and Edinburgh streets. He was so scared after he did it he ran home and hid under the bed. His so-called friends snitched and when the police came the proof was on his fingerprints, by way of the iridescent paint you could not see with the naked eye, but that glowed when alight was shone on it.

Gary was not big on sports but loved to read and learn new things. He was impatient with ignorance and spent little time on gossip. He used to always tell me if it is not something that can win me $100,000 on a game show; I don’t need to know it. After High School when he lived with me, he had a problem with a record player and called a repairman to fix the problem. I recall he was so furious at the fee he had to pay the repairman, he began then to teach himself how to repair anything electronic. He especially excelled in learning computer technology and soon found himself at Xerox as a Tech Rep. Xerox actually gave him a car. Regardless of his antics, he made it to work.

My baby bro also mastered the art of blackmail when it came to me. He used to brag to others how as a teen he never needed a summer job because to get paid all he had to do was follow me and take notes. For at least 3 years after receiving my allowance I was forced to turn it over to him as hush money. I would often hear my mother cry out “Lawd, why me?? How could you give me 2 Leo’s?” Gary’s favorite statement-like little sister Dee would often say to her brother, Roger on the TV show “What’s Happening”—Ooooooo I’ma tell Mama!!” When I married my son’s (Mike and Wally, Jr.) father Wallace Taggart Sr., one would have thought Gary became a fixture in our home. He loved Wallace dearly.

Gary was not a joiner of many activities and clubs but for self-defense he did follow me into becoming a member of the Rochester Black Panther Party. He took being a member seriously. So seriously after leaving a section meeting one night that was held in our office on Joseph Avenue, he was walking home down Exchange Street and encountered a large angry crowd that was not allowed access to the then War Memorial.—A concert for Aretha Franklin had been sold out and no one else was being allowed inside. Fresh from a class that had engrained in him how to quell disturbances that appeared headed into a violent situation he climbed the steps of the War Memorial and with out-stretched hands was attempting to remind the crowd that the police had the advantage with their weapons. Because he was dressed in uniform, his black jacket and black beret attracted the attention of the police more than his intent, and he was arrested and charged with attempting to incite a riot. It took months for his case to come to court because someone kept threatening the judge. Hmmmmm … eventually my baby bro who was 17 at the time received an INDEFINITE sentence. Whoever heard of such??? He served 3 years in Elmira Correctional as nothing but a Political Prisoner.

My baby bro, James’ bro, as well as Tyrone Brown’s, Tilah Johnson’s, Jermaine Winston’s, twins Joshua and Jabril’s father will certainly be missed. He also had 4 step sons and one step daughter. In the blended family he and Margaret had, there were no “steps”. Gary treated all of Margaret’s kids just like they were his. He left also to mourn him 16 grandkids and 2 great grands. God makes no mistakes and brought the right caregiver to him as he left this dimension. His son Joshua and his wife Kesha rose to the challenge of caring for him in his final days. Don’t let anyone make you think that caring for a loved one, especially one that is bed ridden is a simple task.

Yes, I am still trying to accept the fact that my baby bro is gone home. I am not sure that the pain will ever leave me, but I do know he is in a better place, no longer suffering.

Gloria Winston is a Community Activist, Writer, Communicator, and Political Activist. She is a native Rochesterian and has been involved with numerous community organizations in Rochester. Contact Gloria at:

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