David Campbell Winckler passed in peace and comfort on Wednesday, Aug. 21 from Alzheimer’s dementia. Born in Long Beach on Feb. 4, 1937 to his parents Richard and Elizabeth, Dave spent his youth in both the avocado fields of Tustin and the sunny sands of Newport Beach. In these places, Winckler began to foster what would become a life-long love of fun and the outdoors by learning to sail and body surf, while also working at his father’s boat yard.
Dave culminated his secondary education at the Desert Sun School in Idyllwild, Calif., in 1955 and attended Stanford University before serving with the Marine Corps from 1957 to 1963 in the Marine Helicopter Transport Squadron 462. Following his honorable discharge, he completed a business finance degree at the University of Southern California in 1963.
During the years that followed, Winckler became a husband to Jane Robinson and a father while working in the banking industry of Southern California. Never being one to sit very still, he raced cars through the deserts of Baja and developed a passion for exploring Mexico. In the mid-1970s, Winckler moved to Northern California where he met and married his current wife, Judy Michels. The family settled in Sacramento where he worked in commercial real estate and raised his four sons.
In 1993, after living almost 15 years in Sacramento and successfully getting all of their boys off to college, the couple decided an adventure was in order. In true Dave Winckler fashion, the two drove from California to Alaska, clear north of the Arctic Circle and waded in the Arctic Ocean before spending three years warming up by living in San Miguel Allende, Mexico. Returning from Mexico in the mid-1990s, Winckler returned to his roots, living in Laguna Beach for 15 years with Judy. During this time, Winckler reconnected with his love of sailing and the ocean before moving to Napa in 2009.
More than anything, Winckler loved to have fun and be around people. Jokingly referred to by his family as “Mr. Friendly,” nothing would make him happier than exploring new places and talking to new people. Winckler shared with his family and friends his love of a fresh powder day at Squaw Valley or a summer afternoon of waterskiing on the waters surrounding Sacramento. Memories of a lifetime were made on scores of family trips camping, skiing, and house boating or watching Winckler’s face full of excitement and joy as he would shoot off his cherished cannon on the 4th of July. A strong advocate for the community and for giving back, Winckler was an active Rotarian for over 30 years and served as president of the Laguna Beach and California chapters as well as volunteering with the Boy Scouts of America.
Winckler was a loving and caring husband, father, and grandfather. He is survived by his wife Judy; his four sons and their wives, Chris and Mary Ann, Robert and Elizabeth, Steve and Jennifer, and Jeff and Becki; and six grandchildren, Wade, Trevor, Brooke, Kyle, Lily and Ben.
Private funeral services have already taken place, though another celebration is planned for next spring in Laguna Beach. Remembrances can be made to: The Alzheimer’s Association (www.alz.org), Napa Valley Hospice & Adult Day Services (www.nvhads.org), or Rotary International Fund (www.rotary.org)