Joe Winters, owner of Winters Bros., dies of COVID-19
Joe Winters (right) with brother, Sean
Photos: George Kamper

Joe Winters, owner of Winters Bros., dies of COVID-19

Winters was 54 years old.

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January 6, 2021

Joe Winters, owner of West Babylon, New York-based Winter Bros. Waste Systems, died of COVID-19-related complications Jan. 5. He was 54 years old.

He was born Dec. 28, 1966, into a waste family. Winters’ father, James (Big Jim) Winters, started the hauling company along with his brother Joe with one truck along in 1950.

As part of the second generation of ownership, Joe Winters ran the company along with his brother, Sean. Together, they built the company to include more than 500 employees, helping to serve roughly 100,000 commercial and residential waste customers around Long Island. 

Beyond being a leader in the waste industry, Winters was a former professional heavyweight boxer with a passion for the New York Jets. He was also an advocate for those in the autism community.

Winters’ son, Sean, was diagnosed with autism in 1996 at the age of 2. Subsequently, Joe became a champion for those with developmental disabilities. Beyond hiring employees with disabilities at Winters Bros., he ​founded the Winters Center for Autism in 2020.

According to the Winters Center for Autism website, the nonprofit was formed to “enhance the lives of adults with autism through job creation, training and placement to address the excessive unemployment rate among people with autism. … The center also provides fitness, recreation and social programs to assist participants in achieving their goals.”

The Winters family released the following statement regarding Joe’s passing:

“Our family has lost a loving, caring and dedicated husband, father, brother and uncle. Long Island has lost a true icon and philanthropist. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Joe have lost a dear friend and source of inspiration. Joe leaves behind a company and a team that only he could have built with such determination and direction of excellence that would make anyone proud. Joe’s spirit and vision will continue to guide us. No words can adequately express our sadness and loss associated with Joe’s passing or our gratitude for the opportunity to work with him. We will honor his memory by dedicating ourselves to continuing the work he loved so much.”

Winters is survived by his wife, Michelle, and two sons, Patrick and Sean.

Clairvest Group Inc., Toronto, a long-time business partner of Joe Winters, also issued a statement following the news of his death that reads in part:

"Joe was an exceptional partner, business leader and community builder who led with integrity and tenacity.

"Clairvest had the honor to partner with Joe Winters and his family in three separate waste management businesses over the last 15 years and support the growth of the companies he led. It was a privilege to know him and witness his unwavering commitment to his customers and employees and his care, loyalty and generosity toward his community and family. His energy, passion and vision have left a lasting impression on all of those who have been part of his personal and professional circles.

"We are grateful to have had the opportunity to invest with and work beside this exceptional leader and business builder."

Read Waste Today's 2017 profile of Joe Winters and Winters Bros.