Remembering Thalia Beatrice Winfield

February 20, 2020

Remembering Thalia Beatrice Winfield
October 17, 1924 -January 5, 2020

Thalia B. Winfield, 95, died peacefully on Sunday, January 5, 2020. Born in Surry County, Virginia on October 17, 1924, she was the daughter of the late William and Naomi Winfield. She attended Christ Presbyterian Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for more than 60 years and faithfully served as treasurer,council member of presbytery, and elder.

Thalia graduated from Isle of Wight Training School and earned a degree in business administration from Virginia State University in 1947. She later graduated with advanced certification from The Savings and Loan Institute. She began her professional career at Storer College in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia (1947-1949) and then moved to Atlanta where she was secretary (1949-1954) to the late Dr. Benjamin Mays, president of Morehouse College. During her tenure at the college, she met and befriended the young Dr. Martin Luther King,Jr., a student at that time. While in Atlanta, Thalia became an active member early in the Civil Rights movement and enjoyed a long personal friendship with Dr. King that continued long after she moved to Milwaukee.

In Milwaukee, Thalia worked for Columbia Savings and Loan Association, 2020 W Fond Du Lac Ave., (1954-1992) where she rose to become CEO, making her one of—if not the first—African American female CEOs of a financial institution. Columbia S&L, one of the first minority owned banking institutions in the country, remains in business today. Upon retirement she continued her service as an active member of the Board of Directors and became an honorary member in 2015.

Thalia was not only a pioneer in her profession but also in sports, where she was an accomplished amateur golfer and avid cross country skier.

She was preceded in death by her brothers, Vernon and Alvin Winfield. Survivors include her brother, Ward Winfield of Williamsburg, VA and her, sister, Nettie W. Mensia of Chesapeake, VA and a host of cousins, nieces, nephews, extended family and close friends.

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