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Friends launch fundraiser for the family of industry veteran James Winchester

Published March 7, 2022

VISTA, Calif. (BRAIN) — Friends have launched a Gofundme campaign to help support the young family of 25-year industry veteran James Winchester. Winchester died unexpectedly Wednesday, March 2, following a struggle with the lasting effects of a traumatic brain injury he sustained in 2016. He was 43.

Winchester was well known in the industry as a product manager. His designs were the recipient of multiple "Best in Class" and "Editors Choice" bicycle awards. He began his bike industry career as a teenager working at Country Time Bicycles of Mattituck, New York, and moved up to Bike-alog, an industry database. He went on to work at Giant, Veltec, Schwinn, Felt, Cannondale, Specialized, Fuji, Haro/Masi and more as a consultant via his own company, Cassette. Most recently, he was a global category manager at Giant Bicycle. He made friends wherever he worked and was known for his keen eye for detail and specification. James had an infectious passion for bicycles and innovation in our industry.

Tom Morgan, the president of Ibis, said, "James was a colleague during my time at Giant, and was one of the biggest bike nerds I've ever known. I mean that sincerely as a compliment. It's the passion of people like him who have kept the bike world so vital and interesting. He also possessed an amazingly quick wit and would dish it out as much as he took. My heart goes out to his wife and kids. We'll miss you, James."

Rick Hoak, a senior sales manager at Bosch eBike Systems North America said, "James was and will always remain a wonderful human being. A true bicycle expert, a supportive colleague, and a committed family man who always had a warm and sometimes humorous welcome for everyone he knew. James' passion and enthusiasm for cycling was infectious. He could connect with literally anyone over bikes. He was loved by so many in the bicycle world, I feel so fortunate to have worked closely together and call him a good friend for nearly 25 years. I'm echoing the words of many: he will be sorely missed."

Tara Seplavy, an editor at Bicycling said, "James was one of my dearest friends in the bike business. For more than two decades we had the opportunity to be cohorts, competitors, and co-workers. We shared a common language, of sorts, with quirky humor, one-liners, and inside jokes. Many times James was my sounding board or the one to call for a gut-check on a ridiculous idea. He was always there with keen insight and support. James was a brilliant product mind, and most importantly, a loving husband to Karie and a devoted father."

Allen Needle, risk manager of Giant Bicycle said, "I'm feeling absolutely lost with the news of losing a friend and co-worker who shared our mutual passion for bikes, the bike industry, and riders of all stripes. I met James during his first stint at Giant in the early 2000s — he was goofy (that never stopped), with a wicked sense of humor and he always had a biting comeback line. He became an industry 'journeyman' and moved his way around our industry making hundreds, if not thousands, of friends along the way. He influenced others with his passion for bicycle product and design and eventually wound up back at Giant last summer. He commented to everyone that coming back to Giant was his dream come true. We miss him."

He leaves behind a wife and three young children. Proceeds from the fundraiser will go toward the family's immediate financial needs, as well as the long-term educational and support needs of his children.

In addition to the Gofundme campaign,  Lucidity Business Development is donating 5% of its web sales in March to James' family.

James was born on April 9, 1978, in Montreal, Canada. He grew up in Montreal and Pleasantville, New York, graduated from Southold High School in Southold, New York, and attended the University of California Santa Barbara. He moved to Vista in 2015, having lived in Danbury, Connecticut; Morgan Hill, California; and Bensalem, Pennsylvania.

A Mass of Christian Burial and Interment will be celebrated on Tuesday, April 5, at Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, 4050 Mission Avenue, Oceanside California 92057, at 1:15 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to any of the following organizations, which were significant to James and his love of bicycling:

  • All Kids Bike, which places kindergarten PE Learn-To-Ride Programs into public schools for free;
  • Pablove Foundation, which fights childhood cancer with love, funding cutting-edge pediatric cancer research and art programs for children in treatment;
  • San Diego Brain Injury Foundation, which provides hope, support and a community to San Diego's brain injury survival population.

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