The McCreary County Record


January 13, 2009

Write On: “Behind Every Great Man...”

They say behind every great man there’s a great woman. That expression is very old, but it has never been attributed to anyone in particular. I have a feeling it goes way back in human history and would have been familiar to the ancient Greeks and Romans.

It was the first thing I thought of when my friend Jonathan Winters called me early Monday morning to tell me that Eileen, his wife of more than 60 years, had succumbed to cancer the night before.

I have been friends with the Winters for more than 25 years. My wife and I were married at their house in Toluca Lake, California.

Eileen was Phyllis’ Matron of Honor, even as Jonathan was my best man.

She was born Eileen Schauder in their home state of Ohio on November 3, 1924. Eileen was the love of John’s life going back to his high school days in Dayton. She was like a goddess to Jonathan: smart, focused, beautiful, and popular. He pursued her with a single-minded devotion and his persistence paid off when she finally agreed to marry him.

Jonathan wasn’t her only suitor, but Eileen saw something in him at a time when almost nobody else did. That was the key to their getting together. Jon had grown up as an only child. He had retreated somewhat from the outside world into a world of his own creation. One of the short stories he wrote in his best-selling collection called “Winters’ Tales” was entitled: “I Was Behind The Couch The Whole Time.” In it, Jon describes what he saw when his parents would have a party and he would slip into the room and hide where he could eaves-drop on their conversations and see what people did at a grownups’ party. It was through such observation that Jon acquired his unique talent for mimicry and comedic improvisation.

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