Driving the Memories: Belle Plaine Book Honors Teacher

By Jill Kasparie, Reporter

BELLE PLAINE, Iowa - A Belle Plaine family is working together to publish a new book.

It's filled with stories about a long-time driver's education teacher, Wallace Winkie, who passed away in January at the age of 95. The book is written by none other than his former students. Winkie taught the class for decades. The book has become a project by the entire community.

"This is the book cover that our daughter-in-law drew," said Beverly Winkie as she pointed to a drawing.

A new display is filling store fronts in downtown Belle Plaine. The subject of each drawing and story is a man very dear to Beverly Winkie.

"I met him in 1950 when he came to my home town to teach and we were married three years later, and we would have been married sixty years in August of this year," Beverly Winkie said.

Many people in town had Wallace or "Wink" for driver's education. Before he passed away, the Winkie's decided to put together a book with crazy behind the wheel stories. Those started pouring in, and now there's about 200 stories.

"So, it became not just a Wallace Winkie book," Beverly Winkie said. "It became a community book because the people that donated the stories were Belle Plaine people and the people who made the sketches were Belle Plaine people."

Even Mayor David Fish has a story in the book. In it, he recalls learning how to parallel park in the same spot for an entire hour after his smart answer to Mr. Winkie.

"You just pull up and throw it into reverse and slam it into the car behind me and pull ahead and tap the car in front of you and level off, and he said I think we have some work to do," Mayor Fish said.

The stories and displays all make Beverly miss her husband.

"It truly make me want to cry. We can't sit together and laugh," Beverly Winkie said.

In real life it's not a storybook ending. But know this: the book is a tale of a man, his love for teaching and a community's effort to keep his stories alive.

"When people read that book, those stories will still touch lives and that's what he wanted to do and that's what he did so well," Beverly Winkie said.

All of the stories and pictures displayed in the stores will be in the book. The ebook is set to come out by July 4, while the actual book is will be ready later this summer. Beverly Winkie said all of the proceeds will go towards scholarships to help life-long learners complete their education.
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