Ralph Karl Winter Jr. was born July 30, 1935 in Waterbury, Connecticut. Her father worked in insurance and her mother, Muriel (Pullin) Winter, was a housewife.
He attended Taft School, a nearby boarding school, as a day student, then went to Yale, just 20 miles away, where he graduated in 1957. He immediately enrolled at Yale. Law School, where he met his future wife, Kathryn Higgins, a new Haven native who worked in the school library. She died in 2012.
In addition to his son, he is survived by a granddaughter.
A law school graduate in 1960, Judge Winter held a series of prestigious internships, first for Judge Caleb M. Wright of the U.S. District Court in Delaware, then for Thurgood Marshall, then a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, covering New York, Connecticut and Vermont.
Although Justice Winter, a libertarian-leaning conservative, differs philosophically from Marshall, the two have become close friends. When Justice Winter joined the Second Circuit himself in 1982, appointed by President Ronald Reagan, Marshall, then a Supreme Court justice, was sworn in. In 1993, Justice Winter delivered a eulogy at the funeral of Justice Marshall.
Judge Winter’s judicial chambers have become a reliable pipeline to Supreme Court jobs, academics, and high-level government jobs. Among his best-known clerks were Steven G. Calabresi, a founder of the Federalist Society; Paul G. Mahoney, former dean of the University of Virginia Law School; Laura Ingraham, Fox News host; and George T. Conway III, the Republican lawyer and husband of former Trump White House aide Kellyanne Conway.