We are heartbroken to share that our founder and Board of Directors member Robert “Bob” E. Winn passed away last night (Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022). Our prayers and love go out to his wife Maria and their family.
As a young attorney, Bob founded New Orleans and Louisiana Right to Life in 1970, three years before Roe v. Wade legalized abortion. After learning about the horrors of abortion as other states began legalizing abortion in some cases, Bob, with his wife Maria, called a group of friends together at a dinner party to invite them to help. Since then, Bob fought year in and year out for the lives of unborn babies. Bob was also very focused on fighting against euthanasia and assisted suicide. Without question, Bob’s leadership was critical in making Louisiana a leader in the pro-life movement.
In faith, we know he has been welcomed into heaven, especially by the millions of unborn babies whose lives he dedicated his life to saving.
Bob’s legacy must live on through all of us. He was always a volunteer in his pro-life efforts. Each one of us must continue his life’s work of bringing an end to abortion and protecting every innocent life.
Bob, thank you for your witness and example. We will miss you!
Remarks by Ben Clapper at the Funeral of Bob Winn
January 26 2022
St. Dominic’s Church New Orleans
My name is Ben Clapper, and I serve as the Director of Louisiana Right to Life.
To Maria and family, on behalf of my wife Kristen and the entire pro-life movement, including Louisiana, New Orleans, and National Right to Life, I offer my deepest sympathies on Bob’s passing.
It’s such an honor that Bob and his family asked me to say a few words today. For those of you who may not know, Bob was the founder of Louisiana and New Orleans Right to Life, a founding member of National Right to Life, and left a tremendous legacy for the pro-life cause.
I know this has been shared before, but the story always inspires me. In the spring of 1970, Bob attended a presentation at Loyola on abortion and just so happened to sign his name on the sign-in sheet in the back.
Shortly after, Archbishop Hannan called Bob and asked him to attend the second national meeting on abortion in Minnesota. Bob, admitting he knew very little about abortion, was particularly moved by Dr Jack Wilke’s presentation on the horrors of abortion. Bob left Minnesota with nine slides about abortion wrapped in Ditto paper, a $1 book by Dr. Wilke, and a determination to make a difference.
Shortly after, Bob and his wife Maria hosted a dinner party for friends. Instead of showing slides about their latest travels, Bob showed the nine slides about abortion and presented on what he learned at the conference. Remember, this was three years before Roe v. Wade. It wasn’t clear at that point that abortion would ever become legal in Louisiana. Bob could have easily said, “Well, that’s a problem for New York or Colorado, but not Louisiana” and go back to his daily life, but he couldn’t. The course of his life was set and he could never look the other way again.
The guests at that dinner party, a few of them who are here today, were moved by the slides and Bob’s passion, and by the end of that evening, New Orleans and Louisiana Right To Life were born. That evening launched the pro-life movement in Louisiana, and the fruit of that has been the work of Right to Life across Louisiana for over 50 years, but also inspired the growth of pregnancy centers and many other efforts to defend life and support mothers.
What I love about that dinner party story is Bob’s insistence to not just care about the issue but to do something about it, not matter what it takes, even putting your friends on the spot.
When Roe v Wade was handed down, Archbishop Hannan invited Bob to his office the next day to plan the response. One of my favorite historical items in our organization is the press release that Bob sent out just a few days after the Roe v. Wade decision.
Bob was tireless in his defense of human life, all while having a family and a successful law practice. He never received a dime for any of the pro-life work he did. He gave presentations locally and across the state, lobbied the legislature, went door-to-door passing out flyers, sponsored advertising, coordinated strategy, led the cause, and so many more things.
Bob was instrumental in the passage of many laws, including those in the early 90s that would’ve protected all babies from abortion in Louisiana if it hadn’t been for the Supreme Court. Bob was also dedicated to furthering adoption. He helped crafted many of the adoption laws that we have today. He also was focused on stemming the spread of euthanasia and assisted suicide.
Bob share with me that one of his favorite Bible verses was Matthew 25:40: “Whatever you’ve did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you’ve did for me.”
His dedication to the pro-life cause was not political, though he knew that we had to work within the political system to achieve our goals. His calling was to serve the least among us, and as we know in the pro-life movement, who could be more vulnerable and more innocent than that precious unborn child?
And I didn’t even know about all the other things he did to help the needy until I read his obituary and learned of his work with Catholic Charities and Casa.
I’ve been blessed to have Bob as a mentor and an inspiration. There were several years when Bob and I talked on the phone almost every day. Not only am I inspired by Bob’s passion and determination, but I learned so much from Bob’s strategic and logical mind. Bob had the ability to look beyond what was happening in the present to see how to prepare for the future. Like so many of you, I will always be indebted to Bob
Now, honestly, I’m sure if Bob were sitting here he would tell me to stop talking about him and focus on the cause instead. Because of that, I know the best way we can remember Bob is by each of us doing our utmost in our daily lives to defend life. Bob’s calling in this movement was profound, but God is calling each us in a particular way to build a culture of life.
Bob, thank you for your legacy and inspiration. We will miss you, and I pray you will be welcomed into heaven by all those precious lives you fought for everyday.