Oral history of Bob Wingeard
Bob’s story is unique in that he was gay man working as a civilian government employee with top-secret clearance for the USAF Air Defense Command/NORAD from 1965 to 1995. During this time, if Bob’s sexual orientation went public, the chances are very good that the government would have fired him and stripped him of his top-secret clearance. Bob speaks directly to this and how it affected his career and opportunities for advancement. He goes into detail about his career with the Air Defense Command/NORAD giving a unique perspective that many people will find interesting.
Thanks to the generosity of the Gill Foundation, in October 2019 History Colorado hired the Gill Foundation Associate Curator of LGBTQ+ History to manage and expand History Colorado’s LGBTQ+ holdings and to develop the Gill Foundation LGBTQ Archive in recognition of the significant contributions of Tim Gill to the state of Colorado. All LGBTQ+ acquisitions from 2019 through 2021 reflect the support of the Gill Foundation.
Dedicated to documenting the varied experiences of all Coloradans, History Colorado and the Gill Foundation initiated the LGBTQ Collecting Initiative to proactively build a research archive that preserves and promotes the contributions, history, and voices of Colorado’s LGBTQ+ community.
2 digital files (1 audio and 1 video, both from same oral history collected on Zoom). Length of oral history: 1 hour, 41 minutes. Video file available on YouTube. Audio file available on SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/historycolorado/oral-history-of-bob-winegeard-2020791
Robert “Bob” Owen Wingeard was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on January 4, 1939. Bob’s upbringing was typical for the time. There were four people in his family; mother (Mary), father (Irvin) and brothers (Irving Jr. and Douglas). Bob shared a bedroom with his older brother Irvin Jr while growing up. Beginning at age six Bob’s household chores included cleaning his room, doing the dishes, running errands and from the ages for twelve to seventeen, he had a paper route. He always liked school and his favorite subjects were math, history, and English with his least favorite as science. Bob attended Purdue University from 1956-158 and then again from 1960-1962 and earned a BS in Mathematical Sciences. He later attended graduate school at Ohio State and North Carolina University. Bob worked for the Pennsylvania State Government, from 1956 to 1963 as the Producer of the annual PA Statistical Abstract. The IRS from 1963-1965 as a math statistician working on the TCMP (Taxpayer Compliance Measurement Program). He then worked for Air Defense Command/ NORAD from 1965-1995 where he designed and managed large data systems requiring top-secret clearance. In 1960, Bob met his first lover, AF Major Sy Louis, and moved to Colorado Springs to be with him in 1965. Major Louis helped Bob get his job at the Air Defense Command as a civilian government employee. They were together until 1970 when Major Louis transferred to Turkey. Bob then met his second lover Walter Kessel, the Chief Pastry Chef at the Broadmoor Hotel and they were together until Walter passed away in 2013. He was a member of the Purdue Players Drama Club while attending university. He has been a member of the American Contract Bridge League since 1966. He was a Unit Board member for six decades, on the District 17 board from 1972 to 1998, on the Western Conference board from 1977 to 1998, and a National Board member from 1990 to 1998. Bob considers one of his greatest accomplishments as managing a project as president of the local ACBL unit to buy land in the 1970’s and built a unit building for all the duplicate games. It was his idea and is a lasting monument enjoyed by 500 members that keeps fees low ($5 a game compared to $12 in Denver). He also has a 5-acre home in Black Forest, CO, near Colorado Springs, CO that is a designated wildlife habitat that he considers paradise.
Oral History of Robert "Bob" Wingeard, 2020.79.1, History Colorado, Denver, Colo.