In tribute: Journalist remembered for resiliency

By Kevin Wilson: Freedom New Mexico

Whether it was a friend, family, the Dallas Cowboys or Run DMC, Mickey Winfield’s loyalty was unquestioned over his 33 years.

Winfield, a broadcaster and newspaper reporter, died Saturday in Portales due to heart complications, family members said.

Born March 24, 1976, in Oxford, England, Winfield had an abnormal childhood on many fronts.

First, he was a military child, and the family moved often — twice to Germany, once to Texas and once to Turkey before he finished up his high school days in Alamogordo.

Danny Winfield said his son loved sports, especially Dallas Cowboys football. When the family lived in Turkey, Danny would often play catch with Mickey — Danny throwing the ball from the second-floor balcony and Mickey catching it on their quiet street — and take him down to the office so they could watch football games on the Armed Forces Television network.

The time difference meant they were watching the games in the early hours of the morning. Danny would take Mickey home when a game got lopsided, but that changed when the Buffalo Bills rallied from a 35-3 half-time deficit to beat the Houston Oilers in 1993.

“At half-time, I said, ‘Come on Mick, it’s done.’” Danny said. “He said, ‘Wait a minute; let’s give it five minutes.’ Five minutes became two more hours.

“He always reminded me of that.”

Mickey’s parents were also close to him — admittedly, too close for comfort at times — due to health problems. He was diagnosed with an extra pathway on his heart at age 3 and was given a pacemaker seven years later.

Heart issues were always around the corner, as were psoriasis and adult diabetes. His mother, Vicky Winfield, said Mickey was her “sunshine” and made days easier when the family lived in foreign countries. But constant adult supervision took its toll on the mother-son relationship for a few years.

“There could not be a minute for a kid to go off and skin his knee,” Vicky Winfield said. “It’s really the wrong way to raise a child, but because of the medical conditions it was the only way for him.”

While at Alamogordo, he found his niche in broadcasting, as a local radio station needed help. Soon after, the high-schooler was hosting “Tiger Talk” and calling Alamogordo football games — the next best thing to playing, his father said.

His interests led him to Eastern New Mexico University, where he studied broadcast journalism, served in the Sigma Chi fraternity and graduated in 2000. Ben Coker, who lived next door to Winfield at the Eddy Hall dormitory, laughed as he recalled Winfield’s daily Internet searches for news on a long-delayed Run DMC album. But he said Winfield — despite a three-year age difference — was his first friend at ENMU, and taught him how to film, anchor and look professional at KENW.

“One thing that I will never forget, is he is the man responsible for teaching me how to tie a tie,” said Coker, now a part-time anchor at KFDX in Wichita Falls, Texas. “To this day, people are amazed at how good my ties look because he taught me the art of the double Windsor. Every day I’m looking my sharpest, it’s because of Mickey Winfield.”

The university was also where Winfield met his wife, Lacy. The two got to know each other as coworkers at the University Computer Center.

She noticed he was vocal and always opinionated, but always in a good mood.

“We worked the same shift for about a month, month and a half,” Lacy Winfield said. “One night, he just asked if I’d like to see a movie.”

They saw a movie, had dinner, and Mickey said he’d call the next day. He did, there was another movie, and she said, “We were just a couple from there.”

They were married in 2002, and soon had daughter Zoe.

“He was scared to death when we found out,” Lacy said. “He was so excited at the same time. He stopped being about (himself) and started thinking about us as a family unit. He always thought in perspective of the family unit. From the moment we got pregnant, it was an automatic switch.”

The switch meant he was talking to his mother more about marriage and kids, and getting closer with his older brothers.

“There was a five-year difference,” said his brother, Donald Winfield. “The time that we really started talking and getting to know each other was when I graduated from the Coast Guard academy and he was in college.”

The family moved throughout New Mexico as he did radio jobs in Artesia and Ruidoso and worked as the sports anchor for KBIM in Roswell before spending his last few years as a sports writer at the Portales News-Tribune.

Some family members expressed shock at his death, while others were just happy he lived long enough to give the Winfields more family.

“I told Mickey once he was my hero, simply because with all the adversity he had he never complained about his conditions, and then he came down with the diabetes. He had those things, but he always told me, ‘It’s not that bad. I can handle it. It could have been so much worse,’” Danny Winfield said.