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    Roosevelt Winbush, respected faith leader in Orange County, dies
    • July 8, 2023

    Roosevelt Winbush, a leader in Orange County’s African American faith community, has died. He was 93.

    Winbush died as a result of complications from a fall on June 20, family members said. A memorial service was held Friday, July 7 at Eastside Christian Church in Anaheim.

    Born and raised in Dawson, Georgia, during the Jim Crow laws era, Winbush wanted a safe and better life for his family. In order to escape the Ku Klux Klan, he took his wife and four daughters to his mother’s house before he fled Georgia to Orange County in 1958.

    He found employment in construction in Yorba Linda, working on projects such as the development of the 91 and 57 freeways. In the late 1950s, once he got his footing on the West Coast, Winbush sent for his wife and four daughters to join him from Georgia.

    “When we came to Orange County in 1958, there were only certain places that would rent to Black people,” said one of his daughters, Liz Edwards. She said her father worked two jobs in order to provide for his family.

    (Photo courtesy of daughter Liz Edwards)

    Winbush brought gospel quartet music to Orange County. He performed at various churches and venues throughout the 80s. (Photo courtesy of daughter Liz Edwards)

    (Photo courtesy of grandson Loren McAdoo)

    Winbush and his wife celebrate 72 years of marriage. (Photo courtesy of grandson Loren McAdoo)

    (Photo courtesy of grandson Loren McAdoo)

    Winbush smiles with his wife of over 73 years. (Photo courtesy of grandson Loren McAdoo)

    (Photo courtesy of grandson Loren McAdoo)

    Winbush smiles with his wife of over 73 years. (Photo courtesy of grandson Loren McAdoo)



    Winbush became an active member of Community Temple Baptist Church in Santa Ana and served there about 30 years, becoming the head deacon and chairman of the deacon board.

    With a deep love for gospel music, he sang at churches around Orange County. His lifelong journey as a gospel singer began in Georgia in the “chitlin’ circuit,” which was an informal network of venues where Black performers could entertain during the era of segregation.

    Edwards said that the Winbush family encountered “traumatic” racism in Orange County, but found refuge in the faith, and in her father’s service as a deacon and gospel singer.

    “Community Temple was a community where Black people can meet once or twice a week and feel safe,” Edwards said.

    Tony Simon, now a pastor of the Covenant City Church in Santa Ana, was a member of Winbush’s quartet group. He said that Winbush inspired him to start singing.

    “I watched him sing with the energy he did, and it made me want to do that,” Simon said.

    Simon added that he considered Winbush a mentor in his professional and personal life.

    “He mentored me from age 14 to 15 to right now,” Simon said. “So he’s been in our life, teaching us about life, about singing, how to take care of a family. Next to my dad, he’s the next closest thing.”

    Loren McAdoo, one of Winbush’s seven grandchildren, recounted his grandfather’s impact, especially on Black Christians in the region. He explained that the Black churches in Orange County made up “one giant community,” so members of each church would interact with each other regularly.

    “Whether it was something just as simple as keeping the church grounds nice, he would do that; helping someone who was in need, someone who was hungry, somebody who just needed a word of encouragement, so he was always just looking out for the community in general,” McAdoo said.

    In retirement, Winbush started his own gardening service. He meticulously tended to his own lawn and his children’s own yards, before expanding his business by word of mouth to help out his neighbors. He died in Yorba Linda after living there for over 40 years.

    At the service, Winbush’s loved ones, Community Temple Baptist Church ministers and other local faith leaders gathered to pay tribute to Roosevelt’s life and legacy.

    “What he meant to the community was that no matter your talent, no matter what you’re confident or not confident in, there is always a role for you, and you can be a blessing to anybody,” McAdoo said before the service.

    Winbush is survived by his wife of over 73 years, Lizzie; his four daughters, Charlie, Mattie, Elizabeth, Mary, seven grandchildren and many great-grandkids.

    ​ Orange County Register