Photo shows four members of the Winter family in front of the Furniture Mall of Kansasstore
Jeff, Jamie, Joyce and Bob Winter at the opening of the Furniture Mall of Kansas in Olathe, Kan., in 2015.

Furniture Mall of Kansas founder leaves strong family legacy

Bob Winter’s obituary noted that he enjoyed family activities, including making homemade ice cream.

How fitting, given that homemade frozen custard, crafted from their own cows’ milk, was the featured item at his parents’ “Howdy Come In” soda fountain in 1930s Emporia, Kan.

Family traditions were important for Robert F. “Bob” Winter, who died Feb. 17 at age 85. He was co-owner of Home Furnishings Association member Furniture Mall of Kansas, which serves frozen custard today at Howdy Come In cafes in its stores in Topeka and Olathe.

Ben and Eva Winter purchased a gas station that came with a soda fountain in 1933. Within a few years, they began selling new and reconditioned furniture from a barn on their property. Later, they moved the furniture business to downtown Emporia.

Bob Winter returned to family business in 1967

Their son, Bob, began his career as a buyer for Davis and Shaw Furniture in Denver, Colo. But in 1967, he and his wife, Joyce, returned to Emporia to join his father and brother, Richard, at Winter Furniture.

In 2000, when he was 65, Bob launched a new business, this time with his son and daughter-in-law, Jeff and June Winter. They opened Discovery Furniture in Topeka. Nine years later, they were joined by Bob and Joyce’s younger son, Jamie, and his wife, Jeanne. In 2010, the family opened a second location in Lawrence.

After purchasing Marling’s Furniture in Topeka, the Winters initiated the furniture mall concept – putting several furniture stores together in one large building. In 2013, this approach was more fully developed with the creation of Furniture Mall of Kansas. A second and larger Furniture Mall of Kansas was opened in Olathe in 2015. Distinct stores within each mall offer furniture, flooring and mattresses.

‘Passion for doing business better’

“Bob lived out his faith through his devotion to family and his passion for doing business better,” according to his obituary. “Bob loved family activities, which included snow skiing, camping, boating, sports cars, jazz music and making homemade ice cream.

“Survivors include wife, Joyce Winter, sons, Jeff (June) Winter, Rob (Nuay) Winter, Jamie (Jeanne) Winter, daughter, Jennifer (Brian) Dodge, grandchildren, Kate (Michael) Davis, Erin (Travis) Zehr, Jacob Winter, Cameron Winter, Amanda Winter, Trent Dodge, Cole Dodge, Dylan Dodge, Maylee Winter, Annie Winter, Luke Dodge, great-grandchildren, Olivia Davis, Brayden Davis, brothers, Dick (Miriam) Winter and Paul (Dr. Linda) Winter.

“Memorial contributions may be made to First United Methodist Church, Parkinson’s Foundation, Topeka Rescue Mission, Inc.”

In an email to the HFA, Jamie Winter added this on behalf of his family:

“Dad loved family and was the happiest when with family. His priorities started with his faith, then family, and then work. Dad was the perfect example of a father, husband and leader. Grief is hard only if you loved much. The more you love, the more you grieve. It is truly a privilege and a blessing to grieve this much because we loved so much.”

[Furniture Mall of Kansas donates bedding to children]

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