Pioneering black hospital executive Chuck Windsor died Feb. 2 in Oakland, Calif.
Windsor, 76, a Los Angeles native, served as the director of several large public hospitals, including San Francisco General Hospital; LAC-King-Drew Medical Center, Los Angeles; twice at Harlem Hospital Center in New York; and at King's County Hospital Center in New York.
He retired in 1994 as president and CEO of St. Mary's Hospital, East St. Louis, Ill. Windsor and his wife of 52 years, Nancy Windsor, moved to Oakland to be closer to their daughter and two grandchildren.
The son of a pharmacist, Windsor began his career as a social worker for Los Angeles County before getting into hospital administration. "He broke a lot of racial barriers and touched many lives," Nancy Windsor says. Chuck Windsor served on the board of the Catholic Health Association and on President Clinton's healthcare task force.
Friend and fellow healthcare executive Thomas Chapman, president of the HSC Foundation in Washington and past president of the parent company of Washington's Greater Southeast Community Hospital, says Windsor was a gifted artisan and wood-carver who hand-crafted furniture and launched a chess club in an inner-city Oakland neighborhood after he retired. The chess club served as a gathering place for disadvantaged children and received regional acclaim, he says.
"That's the kind of guy Chuck was: He started this club for poor kids who had no place else to go," Chapman says. "He spent his entire career in public service working in low-income neighborhoods serving the poor and needy. He was totally dedicated to public health. Working for public hospitals, he took a lot of knocks but kept getting back up."
Chapman says he regards Windsor as almost saintly in his commitment to public health and serving the poor. "Today too many people in our business are interested in developing their careers and becoming rich and famous and powerful," he says. "Chuck Windsor was never about advancing his career. He was devoted to service, to making a difference."