Erie Canal

Building Bridges of Opportunity

John Winter's legacy as a devoted father, philanthropist, and advocate for marginalized communities lives on. We are honored to be the stewards of his charitable intentions and to continue his mission of making a positive difference in the lives of children.

John Rinn Winter, Jr. had always admired the rolling hills and valleys of Upstate New York. Born in 1925 in Syracuse to Katharine and John, Winter hailed from a family with a deep history of roots weaved into Central New York. Now, their charitable legacy will forever be honored through a fund at the Community Foundation.

Winter’s great, great grandfather, Charles Tallman, had been a leading citizen in Syracuse during the later decades of the 1800s while his great grandfather, Charles William Tallman, followed suit as a prominent Syracuse businessman and inventor of a radiator safety valve. Winter was proud of the impact his ancestors had on the Central New York Community.

Winter found personal and professional success after opening his own investment advisory business in Syracuse—all the while, nurturing his passion for philanthropy. He believed strongly in education and spent time volunteering and serving on the board of directors of school associations that helped foster future generations of learners.

After he served in the United States Naval Reserve in the Pacific Theater during World War II, Winter received a Bachelor of Arts Degree, Cum Laude, from Amherst College in 1950 and a Master’s Degree from Boston University in 1952. Later that same year, Winter became the Chief Business Officer of Suffield Academy in Suffield, Connecticut. During his 25-year term, Winter was heavily involved in the planning and execution of the development and growth of the Academy.

In 1988, he connected with the Community Foundation after expressing an interest in leaving a lasting gift to the community after he and his family were gone. His wish was to transition the administration of his family’s private foundation to create the Winter Family Fund at the Community Foundation after his daughter and trustee, Katherine, passed away.

“John was a loving and devoted father with a great sense of humor. His life exemplified unselfishness, kindness, integrity and hard work,” his family stated. “He found tremendous joy in helping others which led to the fulfillment of his dream of creating a lasting impact on children.”

During her lifetime, Katherine ensured that her father’s charitable intentions were honored, and now his legacy continues to live on through his fund at the Community Foundation. The Winter Family Fund is dedicated to enriching the lives of children from diverse social and economic backgrounds by recognizing and rewarding the achievement of excellence.

“The Community Foundation is proud to be the steward of John Winter’s charitable intentions and story,” said Tom Griffith, vice president of development at the Community Foundation. “We serve in this way for many private foundations when they reach that point in their lifecycle.”

The fund has already made grants to a number of local causes that are making an impact on the community in ways that were important to Winter. The Erie Canal Museum received a grant to hire an intern to help develop and implement more inclusive programming around the Erie Canal’s History. In addition, the fund provided a grant to the Upstate Foundation to run its Video Production and Visual Storytelling Summer Camp.

Even after his death, Winter is remembered as an involved member of the Central New York community and advocate for marginalized communities.

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