Nash Nicks Winstead was born in Durham County, North Carolina in 1925. He was educated at North Carolina State College, where he earned a B.S. in 1948 and an M.S. in 1951. He earned a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1953.
Winstead joined the N.C. State faculty as an assistant professor in 1953. In 1965 he was appointed director of the Institute of Biological Sciences and assistant director of agricultural experiment stations at N.C. State. He was then appointed as the university's assistant provost in 1967 and associate provost in 1973. In the following year, 1974, Winstead became provost and vice chancellor. Upon the resignation of Joab Thomas in 1981, Winstead served as interim chancellor until 1982. After the appointment of Bruce Poulton, Winstead returned to the office of provost until his retirement in 1990 . NCSU Libraries Special Collections Research Center serves as the repository for Nash Winstead's manuscript collection.
In 1999, N.C. State published Winstead's manuscript "The Provost's Office North Carolina State University An Informal History 1955-1993."
- Historical State: History in Red and White. ""Nash Nicks Winstead: Interim Chief Executive, 1981-1982"". Retrieved 23 December 2011.
- Historical State: History in Red and White. ""Nash Nicks Winstead Papers, 1953-2000 MC 00187"". Retrieved 23 December 2011.
- Winstead, Nash (1999). "The Provost's Office, North Carolina State University: An Informal History, 1955-1993". Raleigh, N.C.