NEW CASTLE, Pennsylvania (MyValleyTributes) – Jeffrey Paul Winter, 62, had his life cut way too short after an 18-month valiant fight against metastatic lung cancer.
Born May 8, 1957, in Healdsburg, California, to Irene Keck and Ted James, he was chosen by his adoptive parents, Mary (Gray) Winter Atchison and William E. Winter, both deceased, who raised him in and around Sonoma County, California.
Jeff grew up with his adopted sister, Heidi (husband, Bob) Young, who survives him in Hidden Valley, California.
From the time he was old enough to walk, Jeff always had a “hammer” in his hand building/designing something, even his backyard cabin. He grew up riding the hills on his dirt bikes and was always working on numerous vehicles, especially his “goat” (GTO). During his youth, Jeff’s sport of choice was bowling, winning multiple trophies from 1966 through 1971, culminating with the California State Bowling Championship in 1972. He spent a couple summers in Idaho working on a relative’s farm.
As a young entrepreneur, Jeff picked mistletoe and walnuts and sold them door to door. He came by construction naturally, but under the guidance of his father, learned to install floor coverings at their store, Winter Floor Covering in Healdsburg, California.
He survived a near-fatal car accident into a bridge during his senior year, suffering injuries which caused a lifetime of physical disabilities. He never let that hold him back and continued to work with his “hammer” all his life.
He graduated from Cardinal Newman Catholic High School in California in 1975.
He was a joint owner in a liquid wallpaper business and painted many hotels & businesses throughout California. He ran backhoe, bulldozer and installed septic and drainage systems throughout Sonoma County, California. Jeff was a maintenance and property manager for an apartment complex before moving to Mesa, Arizona, where he was a cook, bartender and bouncer. Then by nature, the “hammer” came out again. He became a project manager on numerous commercial buildings, and designed, blueprinted and built strip plazas and restaurants.
Jeff designed an electric tower that is still used today in the running of power lines. It was during this time that he met his first wife, who survives him, Joanne M. (Orlando) Winter, West Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After visiting Mahoningtown, they decided to raise a family in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania. He fathered three sons who he loved dearly and always made sure they had what they needed and wanted: Jake W. and (girlfriend Kim Schultz) of Neshannock, Adam J. and Luke A. Winter of West Pittsburgh.
Upon his arrival in New Castle, Jeff started another business J.W. Woodworks and Company, this of course in turn brought the “hammer” back out, the wood silhouettes and frames were unique and of top quality. He then spent the next 20+ years as a contractor doing all types of home improvement for individuals, many local restaurants, and buildings. His reputation of quality work, honesty, and fair prices made it so he never lacked work.
In his last 20 years, Jeff saw a need for home inspectors in the area, so he opened J. Winter Home Inspection, where he inspected homes and other buildings. He always felt a buyer should know exactly what they are buying. Jeff pointed out the positives and negatives, and always gave recommendations on repairs.
During this time, he became friends with many clients and real estate agents, but one of them stole his heart. Elizabeth A. “Betsy” (Milchak) Fisher, agreed to become his wife after a nine-year relationship. On June 22, 2018, they had a unique outdoor wedding at Pymatuning State Park and she survives at home. Jeff told everyone she was his wife, friend, soulmate, second mother to his sons, construction assistant, real estate agent and “nurse” until his passing.
With Betsy, came two stepchildren that he loved and guided like his own. They survive him, Lindsey M. Fisher (boyfriend, Matt Hunt), Antioch, Tennessee and Robert “Robbie” J.G. Fisher (girlfriend, Miranda Grimes), Neshannock Township, Pennsylvania. He always gave them advice whether they wanted it or not! He gave all his children valuable life examples that will carry them through their lives.
It was natural for Jeff to want start flipping houses with Betsy, mainly because Jeff couldn’t put that “hammer” down. He loved restoring the homes and bringing in all the modern conveniences. He also found a love for decorating their yard for every holiday for all to enjoy. As the years progressed, we had to keep coming up with new decorations and since some items couldn’t be bought Jeff would figure out a way to make them. The Christmas display required his wiring genius for nearly 40,000 lights, which awarded him the honor of twice winning Penn Power Merry & Bright contest. Jeff’s love of lights meant a yearly week long trip to look at Christmas displays throughout the Eastern states with two special friends, John Buchanan & Scott Lantzy, from Sharpsville, Pennsylvania, joining them whom shared the love of friendship, laughter and lights.
Jeff loved classic rock and enjoyed seeing may concerts through the years one his favorite bands was Little River Band who he seen in concert five times. Jeff had an extensive playlist, we could travel a week driving and never hear the same song twice. Jeff’s other love even in his childhood was camping, never failing to get in 50 days a year in recent years. One of his last hobbies was riding mopeds and had recently got a new scooter in July and put nearly 500 miles on it in two months. Jeff never failed to appreciate the close friendships of all his camping/moped riding friends, he always felt rich to have so many friends. He was always up for a good road trip, driving all over the central and eastern coast, stopping whenever something caught his eye. He was known to drive a couple hundred miles one way just to eat, he loved trying different foods and he always critiqued them. Jeff loved history of old homes and never failed to tour them on all our trips. He even enjoyed hiking in the Smokey Mountains to see the Sister’s Cabin for Lindsey’s dissertation research.
Jeff will be fondly remembered by his brother/sister in-laws, James R. and Becky Milchak, Hastings, Pennsylvania, Grace A. and Dan Emert, Somerset, Pennsylvania and Philip A. Milchak, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and all his many nieces and nephews.
Jeff and Betsy’s ten years together was not enough, but they lived life to the fullest. They were usually always together and rarely apart, truly soul mates, always on the same path, striving to be the best to all their children, family and friends. Jeff liked to be a part of everything in our lives and made his wife write this obituary before his death so he could approve it. He wants to say to “even though he wishes he had 50 more years, he sends his love to all.”
Special thanks to Hillman Cancer Center and Family Hospice that helped him gain another year of memories.
Memorial donations may be made to the family or a charity of the donor’s choice.
Calling hours will be 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. Monday, November 18, 2019 in J. Bradley McGonigle Funeral Home and Crematory, Inc., 111 W. Falls Street, New Castle. Funeral service will be immediately following at 6:00 p.m., in the funeral home, with Rev. Bill Hunley, officiating.
Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.McGonigleFuneralHomeandCrematory