Kris Winward grew up in Northeast Philadelphia, but the south side of Sea Isle City was a big place in her life.

She lived full time in that area, known locally as Townsends Inlet, for almost 25 years. And she met her husband, Bob Winward, in a neighborhood landmark, the old Garrity’s restaurant — although they soon figured out that chance meeting wasn’t really their first meeting.

Plus Kris worked for years at another Townsends Inlet institution, Busch’s Seafood Restaurant, which has been part of Sea Isle since 1882.

Kris and Bob were together for about 30 years, and married for 27 of them, when she died last month of a rare cancer at 70 — a few years after the couple moved to Cape May Court House. But they had known each other for years before they met one night in Sea Isle.

“Kris was the maid of honor at my original wedding,” says Bob, adding that his first wife — Kris’ high school friend in Philadelphia — was also in Kris’ first wedding.

But both those marriages were over by the time Kris and Bob — or Windy, to his friends — ran into each other at Garrity’s. She asked him to dance, but Kris’ friend of more than 50 years, Lucille Vita Barton, says Kris didn’t remember that history when she invited Bob to the dance floor.

“She knew she knew him,” says Barton, of Sea Isle, “but she didn’t know who the hell he was.”

Bob, 73, a public adjuster, says he and Kris hadn’t seen each other for years before that night. But they started going out, and it wasn’t long before they were moving to a house in Townsends Inlet and heading to another wedding together — their own.

The Winwards got to be regulars at Busch’s, now a neighborhood spot, which led to a friendship with the owners. And that led to a job offer for Kris, who worked for 15 years as dining-room manager.

She started as a hostess, but Kris’ daughter, Lynn DuCharme — a former Garrity’s waitress who now lives in Montana — says her mom’s experience working at a Philadelphia bank led to a promotion.

“She started doing the books at the end of the night, too,” says DuCharme, 43.

Kris enjoyed her job, but shore restaurants can be crowded places in the summer.

“She was there from 2:30 in the afternoon to 2:30 in the morning, six days a week,” Bob says.

When she wasn’t working, Kris loved traveling and animals — and combinations of the two.

“She had talent for talking iguanas down from the trees on tropical islands,” Bob recalls.

Kris and Bob were even thinking of building a home in Montana, near her daughter’s — and near all the wildlife there. But Bob says they hoped to spend winters there and summers here, because Kris didn’t want to be that far from Sea Isle all the time.

A Life Lived appears Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Contact Martin DeAngelis:

609-272-7237