A pair of Wellington twins reunited on the Fourth of July to spend the holiday together for the first time in 70 years.
Les Avery, an Enterprise columnist from 1995 to 2005, and Esther Windmiller graduated from Wellington High School in 1949.
They returned to the village this past week to celebrate their 87th birthday and Independence Day. It was the first time they were together for the holiday since days as teenagers growing up on Magyar Street.
“We just both got married and since my husband was in the military, we lived all over, including Europe,” said Windmiller, a retired Chicago nurse now living in Princeton, Ill. “It just works out that way sometimes. Les settled in Denver and that’s the way it stayed for a long time.”
Avery is a retired Presbyterian minister and is working toward competing as a cyclist in this year’s Senior Olympics, which will take place Aug. 2-4 in Laramie, Wyo.
Since stepping away from the church, Avery has ridden more than 150,000 miles on his bike, Windmiller said.
“Esther got in touch with me and said she wanted to come back to Wellington,” Avery said. “This is where we were born and raised and that means a lot to us. Growing up here has always been very important in my life.”
The book “Less Certain Now: A lifetime of Learning and Unlearning” was penned by Avery and released in 2017. In it he writes of growing up in the village, grieving the 2016 death of his wife, and how his son coming out as gay taught him the importance of open-mindedness and accepting new realities.
“My wife and son have taught me so much about grace, kindness, and love,” he said. “They didn’t even know they were teaching me, and those are the best kinds of teachers. The greatest kind of teachers trick you like that. Losing Jackie was a very challenging time in life for me. It was challenging in many, many ways. I wanted to share that with others going though similar challenges.”
A July 3 performance by the Patriots Symphonic Band provided a perfect backdrop for the twins as they embraced and listened to patriotic tunes with a sea of fellow Wellingtonians.
“It’s so good at our age that we can come together for an occasion like this and not for a funeral,” Windmiller joked. “The village is beautiful and it’s grown so much. My husband and I were married in the First Congregational Church on Main Street. There’s so many memories that come back just by looking around here.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.