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Oliver W. Winch

Black-and-white photo of man with glasses in a suit and tie

Oliver W. Winch

One of the legendary figures in the history of not only South Glens Falls but the school district as well, Oliver Wayland Winch was a former district principal and superintendent who lived to be 107 years old. In 1973, the year he turned 100 years old, what was then the Junior High School on Hudson Street was renamed the Oliver W. Winch Junior High School.

Mr. Winch was born in the backwoods of Saranac Lake in Clinton County on June 11, 1873. A sickly boy, his grandfather predicted that Oliver would never reach the age of five. The classic over-achiever, he beat that prediction by a mere 102 years, becoming a respected teacher, school administrator, author, historian and community servant.

He started his schooling at the age of four in a one-room schoolhouse his father began. Oliver was said to have had an “avid thirst for knowledge,” even back then, and gained admission to the Plattsburgh State Normal School in 1891. To help pay for that schooling, Oliver served as a teacher in rural school districts in Clinton and Essex Counties. He also served as secretary of the Yuma Lumber Company in Arizona at the turn of the century, but returned to the North Country, where he was a teacher for 17 years.

In 1920, Mr. Winch was named District Principal of South Glens Falls Schools, and served until 1926, when he was named Superintendent of the Third Saratoga County District, which included the Town of Moreau, Northumberland, Saratoga Springs and Wilton. His work helped lay the foundation for the centralization of rural school districts that was continued by F. Donald Myers, a 2011 South High Bulldog Pride Hall of Fame honoree.

After retiring as district superintendent in August 1941, Mr. Winch served on the Board of Education from 1941 to 1950 and became a noted area historian and author. In addition to his work as an accountant at the Sandy Hill Iron and Brass Works in Hudson Falls, he wrote several historical books, established retired teacher organizations, and remained active in the South Glens Falls United Methodist Church church, writing a history of the church in his 90s.

In 1973, he received an honorary degree from Plattsburgh State University, and in 1975 was named Alumnus of the Year. He also was honored by several state and national teaching organizations, and was honorary chairman of the South Glens Falls Bicentennial Commission.

Mr. Winch died in December 1980, and still has relatives who live in the area.