|Birth: ||Dec. 6, 1910|
|Death: ||Mar. 1, 2012|
The Washington Post from March 5 to March 7, 2012
Winzola Poole McLendon, bestselling author and journalist, died on March 1, 2012, at her home in Washington, DC. She was the widow of Captain John Benjamin McLendon, USN (Ret.), who died in 1993.
Known as "Winnie," she was born in Cardwell, Missouri, to Mactie Ulysses Poole and Ethel Romines Poole. Winnie was raised in Mangum and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and Long Beach, California.
She went to Long Beach Polytechnic High School with "Bennie" McLendon; they started to date after they had graduated. As Winnie described it, they were double dating, but only had eyes for each other, not their respective dates. They dated exclusively while he attended the University of Southern California Law School and she worked as a physician's assistant. They married in 1935.
Following their marriage, Bennie accepted a position as an insurance company claims manager for most of Arizona and parts of New Mexico. The couple resided in Phoenix, where their only child, Martha Elizabeth (M'Liz), was born.
When World War II started, Bennie joined the United States Navy and was stationed in Coronado, California, where his family joined him. The family later resided in Long Beach, while he served in the Pacific Theatre as supply officer on the U.S.S. Bowie. Winnie loved being a Navy wife, and Bennie, who was raised by the Pacific Ocean, loved the sea. He remained in the Navy after the war.
While stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Winnie complained to Bennie that she did not care for the local newspaper coverage of military social events. One day, during a shopping trip to Honolulu, Bennie stopped the car in front of the Honolulu Advertiser newspaper. "Why are you stopping?" asked Winnie. "You complain all the time about the coverage; go tell the editor," said Bennie.
Winnie knew a challenge when she heard one (she also figured the editor would not accept a drop-in visit). She was gone longer than Bennie expected; he thought she had stayed in the lobby and would come out and claim the editor wasn't in. Instead, after an hour, she got back into the car, ashen faced, and said, "Get to the library!" "Why?" "Because the editor hired me to write a column and I don't know the first thing about newspapers!" And so, a career was born.
The byline of Winzola McLendon appeared in the Honolulu Advertiser, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Washington Post, where she was a staff writer. When the McLendons moved to Washington, her editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer told a colleague at the Post, "Hire her; she has a nose for news!"
During her years with the Post, she was a writer with the Women's Section, a precursor to Style, where she covered First Ladies, starting with Mamie Eisenhower. She also covered Presidential campaigns, major social events, and wrote a number of feature articles. Later in her career, Winnie was an author's agent, representing a number of Washington-based writers.
She continued to write and sold articles to publications including Look, Ladies Home Journal, McCall's, Good Housekeeping, Town and Country, and other major publications. Her stories were often featured on the cover.
She "got" the first interview with Pat Nixon in San Clemente, California, following President Nixon's resignation from the presidency. She was pleasantly surprised when the former President joined the interview, and walked on the beach in his black dress shoes for photographs. While covering the Nixon White House, Winnie became a confident of Martha Mitchell, wife of Attorney General John Mitchell, and collaborated with her on a book that was not published as Martha invariably balked when the manuscript was ready for the publisher.
Following Martha's death, Winnie wrote a biography, "Martha: The Life of Martha Mitchell," which appeared on the New York Times Bestseller List. She had previously collaborated on another book, "Don't Quote Me: Washington Newswomen & the Power Society," a light-hearted look at the women's Washington press corps written with her friend and colleague Frances Fitzgerald "Scottie" Smith.
Winnie was a member of the National Press Club.
Winnie and Bennie traveled the world in retirement; Winnie served on the travel committee of the press club, and led a number of trips. The McLendons split their time for a number of years between their home in Lake Oswego, Oregon, and Washington.
Upon Bennie's death, Winnie made Lake Oswego her home until it was necessary to be closer to her daughter and she returned to live in the District at the Westchester.
Winnie is survived by her daughter, M'Liz McLendon of Silver Spring, Maryland; grandsons C. Sean Beardsley of Langhorne, Pennsylvania, and P. Colin Beardsley of Seattle, Washington; great granddaughters Rachel Poole Beardsley and Rebecca Dinsmore Beardsley, and their mother, Jill D. Turner.
Winnie was predeceased by her parents, and her only sibling, Daisy Elaine Conley, and her niece Nancy E. Gunderson, and nephew Donald D. Conley, Jr.
The family extends its appreciation and gratitude to "Winnie's Warriors," the team of caregivers who became friends and extended members of the family. Special appreciation to Maribel Santos, the first Warrior, and Zenaida Manuzon, Marcela Pelaez, Ana Margarita C. Mayo, and Kimberly Pineda, who were with Winnie during her last years. Appreciation also to others on the team: Nenita de Pedro, Violeta Fiesta, Divine Enriquez, Romalia Maria Dimaano, Carolina Maria Elizan, and all others who assisted.
Special appreciation to two individuals who predeceased Winnie: Robert Breeden, her driver and friend, and Bernice Smith, who helped her transition from a fully independent person to one needing assistance. Also thank you to Rusty and Francis Fiesta, and Joel Pelaez, who took over driving duties.
In addition, the family extends its heartfelt appreciation to the then-National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda, Maryland, and the numerous medical professionals who so compassionately and competently cared for Winnie, especially the members of Team Juliet to include William Shimeall, M.D., M.P.H.; Shenez Kassam R.N., and the team of Corpsmen and Corpswaves who made every visit so much easier, and to the Emergency Room and in-patient medical teams. We also appreciate the help and assistance of the Westchester's staff and employees.
Our final thanks is the incredible staff of the Community Hospice, especially Nurses Amy Smith and Christine Martin and the aides, as well as Chaplain Aubrey Cribbs, who made her final days so peaceful.
Arrangements by the Robert A. Pumphrey Funeral Home, 7557 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD.
Visitation will be from 3 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, March 8. A funeral service will be held at the funeral home at 1 p.m. on Friday, March 9.
Burial will be private at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date, where Winnie will join Bennie in final rest.
Thank you to volunteer contributor Deena for researching the above obituary for use on this memorial page. jer
Note: Interment on June 4, 2012
Arlington National Cemetery
Plot: Section 30 Site 628-RH
Created by: J. Edward Ross
Record added: Jan 05, 2013
Find A Grave Memorial# 103120905