Former E-R editor dies

Jack Winning

Jack Winning

Jack Winning, who as editor of the Chico Enterprise-Record from 1983 until his retirement in 1999 had a major influence on Butte County journalism, died Monday night in his Paradise home from melanoma. He was 71.

Winning and his wife Nancy had just moved to Paradise, having lived in the Mansion neighborhood of Chico before that.

Colleagues remembered a kind and supportive man with old-fashioned values who loved the news business and the people who worked in it. More than half the current staff worked under Winning, and there were tears in the newsroom when word of his death arrived, said current editor David Little.

Veteran reporter Roger Aylworth, who’d known Winning “from the day he walked in from the Contra Costa Times,” said the new editor was “just a good fit from the beginning.”

Winning demanded a very high level of proficiency, Aylworth said, but he also “had a very light hand as an editor. … Micromanaging your stories or acting like he knew more about your beat than you did—that was not Jack.” He helped reporters make their stories better but keep the reporter’s “voice,” Aylworth said.

“He very much saw the newsroom as his family. He was the guy you could talk to when your dad died, as I did.”

At heart Winning was a copy editor, someone who loved polishing stories, and he could be found most days not in his office, but sitting in the newsroom at the copy desk.

Little, who worked as a sports writer under Winning from 1983-85, then at a series of other papers before returning to Chico in 1999 to succeed him, said, “Jack was really a tough act to follow. He was really loved in this newsroom, and the readers loved him as well.

“He was very devoted to the job and he was often down here until late at night, chipping in until the paper was finished before he would go home.”

Winning was passionate about journalism, Aylworth said, but also an emotionally balanced man who never got angry, even at people who called just to yell at him. He handled them with “wonderful aplomb. … His stability was a real blessing and strength.”

Winning, who was originally from Indiana, worked in journalism for 46 years, in the Midwest and Buffalo, N.Y., before coming to the Bay Area and working for the Contra Costa Times. Former E-R Publisher Garry Weibel hired him to helm the Chico paper.

As an editor, he was known as an old-school technician who valued accuracy, fairness and completeness and could do just about anything his reporters did, including page layout.

“He was an exceptional man,” said longtime county reporter Nick Ellena, now retired. “He had no need to exert power. You could always talk to him one on one, and he’d listen. … He was a top-notch human being.”

In addition to his wife, Winning is survived by two sons and a daughter and their families, including four grandchildren. Services are from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Newton-Bracewell Chico Funeral Home.