, Port Arthur, Texas

August 21, 2013

Educator, cancer survivor dies

Frelow founded Winners for Life, was 'inspiring' advocate

Erinn Callahan
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — Winifred Frelow was never one to complain.

“We knew she was sick, but she was always able to rise above even the most extensive treatment,” said Regina Rogers, founder of the Julie Rogers “Gift of Life” program, in a telephone interview.

Rogers met Frelow after the two-time breast cancer survivor founded the Winners for Life Breast Cancer Awareness Organization, which sponsors an annual Breast Cancer Awareness Seminar in the Port Arthur area. During the past 11 years, the organization has raised more than $35,000. Frelow would forward the funds to the Gift of Life organization to pay for mammograms for uninsured and underinsured women. Because of the program, many of those women received free mammograms and clinical breast exams that they would not have otherwise obtained.

“For Winnie's efforts, hundreds more people became involved,” Rogers said. “She was quite a motivator and very inspirational.”

Frelow’s philanthropy continued well after she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2010.

“She was a giving person who lived her life that way,” said Frelow’s cousin Debora Asbury-Scott, of Port Arthur. “Even though her health was failing, she was part of that program until she couldn't do it anymore.”

After a lengthy battle, the former Stephen F. Austin Middle School principal and Port Arthur Independent School District assistant superintendent died Tuesday at age 64.

“We're really grieving,” Rogers said. “She had such an impact on all our lives.”

Frelow was also an instrumental part of Inspire, Encourage, Achieve (IEA), a program founded by Rogers and her mother Julie that provided enhanced educational, rehabilitative and support services to at-risk youth detained at the Minnie Rogers Juvenile Justice Center. It was here that Frelow’s 30 years of experience with PAISD came in handy, Rogers said. She conducted volunteer organizations and planned various holiday events.

“Being a former assistant superintendent and having worked with thousands of children in her career, she was very good at inspiring the youth and also getting the volunteers to participate in our program,” Rogers said.

Even in her fading health, Frelow was recently honored as Gift of Life’s Volunteer of the Year. She also received the Georgie Volz “Shine a Light” award, named for the Gift of Life board member who died in 2010 after battling both breast and ovarian cancer.

Frelow could hardly walk when presented with the award, Rogers said. But that didn’t stop her from attending the meeting — despite having no knowledge that she would be honored.

“When she did something, she did it with all her heart and gave everything of herself,” Rogers said. “She didn't do things because she wanted credit or compliments — she did it because she felt a desire to help that really emanated from the depths of her heart. It was just an honor to have her involved in anything.”

Arrangements are pending under the direction of Gabriel Funeral Home.


Twitter: @ErinnPA