Elizabeth Melone was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on August 13, 1905 to Theodora (Gardiner) and Albert Melone. She graduated from Northrup School in Minneapolis in 1922, and Vassar College in 1926. After receiving her baccalaureate degree, she enrolled at the University of Minnesota and completed pedagogy courses hoping to become an elementary teacher. She then met Frederick S. Winston in early 1927, and married him later that year on September 5. They had three sons: Donald, Frederick, and Neil. Frederick S. Winston became a prominent attorney, championing conservationist causes, including serving on the Quetico-Superior Council in the 1920s and 1930s. He died on February 13, 1964.
Elizabeth Winston became involved in the Great Lakes, and specifically Lake Superior, conservation issues in roughly 1973 when she noted that erosion on her Madeline Island property required massive repairs. After much research, she and others determined the cause of Lake Superior's rise was the regulation of the Great Lakes water levels by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. As she saw it, this was in direct violation of the International Joint Commission Treaty of 1909.
Along with Kenneth Cadotte, Nanette Meech, and Susan Soucheray, Winston organized the Lake Superior Shores and Lowlands Defense Fund on September 20, 1973. Much research and collaboration with other conservation groups ensued. Winston's involvement was abundant and constant; making statements at public hearings, corresponding with elected officials and government agencies, and encouraging others to get involved in their work.
In 1974 the Lake Superior Shores and Lowlands Defense Fund, together with Northern Environmental Council, Inc. (NOREC), joined Phillip and Susan Soucheray in federal court litigation to enjoin the United States Army Corps of Engineers from further regulation of the Great Lakes water levels. The decision in this complaint was ruled in favor of the defendant on November 15, 1979. Winston continued her concern and work for environmental issues after the loss of her case. She died on February 15, 2000.
From the guide to the Elizabeth M. Winston papers., 1928-1992 (bulk 1973-1979)., (Minnesota Historical Society)