David Albert Winters 1/13/49 -12/15/14

by Zoë Winters & David Borough

Reflections by Zoë Winters


With great sadness and deep gratitude for his life, we announce that David died peacefully with his family by his side following a sudden and unexpected heart attack. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, David grew up alongside five siblings in a household that celebrated music. It was there that his unfailing devotion to music began and where he taught himself guitar at an early age.

David was also a gifted thinker and problem solver and he earned a B.S. in Teaching and Mathematics from Salem State. He met his lifelong partner Merritt Tucker while in Eugene, Oregon and the two moved to Santa Cruz, California in 1979 where they settled for the remainder of David’s life.

For 41 years, David and Merritt worked and played and raised their son and daughter, Bailey and Zoë, amongst countless friends and colleagues. He was often described as humble and quiet, yet David’s work on behalf of peace and social justice was strong and courageous.

With hair swinging and rhythmic feet dancing to the beat, his fingers swept up and down the strings with expert precision. On guitar, he played jazz standards, traditional folk and blues, classical music and his own original work. On the mandolin, his specialties included Irish music and Italian classics. David’s sweet and smooth vocals, full and kind, will truly be missed.

David-Winters-1-edit-for-webHis original compositions were used widely by theater companies and dance companies, including Mamalution Dance Collective. In addition, David contributed instructional pieces to Acoustic Guitar Magazine, to Guitar Player Magazine’s prestigious ‘Master Series,’ and to Complete Guitarist (National Guitar Workshop). His acclaimed book, Natural and Artificial Harmonics for the Guitar, is a contribution to the field of harmonic theory and technique. He recorded many celebrated albums over the years and performed annual concerts at Kuumbwa Jazz Center with special appearances by his children.

For 29 years David served as Festival Coordinator for the Western Worker’s Labor Heritage Festival. He was a dedicated member of the AFM Local 153 musician’s union and worked many years as an officer of that Local. He also served as the Secretary/Treasurer of the Santa Cruz Central Labor Council. At Cabrillo College, David was a beloved Choir Director at the Stroke And Disability Learning Center and a friendly and gifted Instructional Assistant in the Cabrillo College Math Learning Center (MLC). It was while receiving tutoring from David at the MLC that several EMT students responded to David’s emergency with resuscitation and great care.

Though David was a gifted musician and devoted worker, his greatest joy was his family. He is remembered as his kids biggest fan and he is survived by: his life partner, Merritt; daughter Zoë; son Bailey and Bailey’s partner Missy; sisters: Marsha, Susan, Patricia and Paula; his brother Jack; brothers-in-law Mark and Charles Tucker; as well as in-laws, nieces, nephews and friends.

To a fighter for justice, peace and fair labor,
You are an inspiration, your work we will savor.
Drift off to Dreamland in a sweet lullaby.
You will always be our smooth and quirky guy.

David Borough on David Winters


Brother David Winters and I worked together as Local 153 officers and as Irish musicians for about 15 years. A major achievement of David’s Local 153 work was advancing the Single Engagement Pension Agreement into wider use. David’s contribution to the AFM International included serving as Chair of the TEMPO Committee for several Conventions. David was a dedicated and most compassionate union leader.

Our music collaboration began almost by default. Upon his suggestion, one day I brought my fiddle to the office. David showed up with an extremely loud 1930’s Dobro mandolin. He and I Jammed on some Irish tunes for a while, and just like that we had formed The O’Daveys Irish Band. David made our business card: a wooden nickel printed with a black shamrock. Pounding out Reels, and Jigs, and singing Rebel songs with David in San Francisco’s Irish pubs were some of my greatest joys as a musician.

I attended the celebration of David’s life on January 3rd, in Santa Cruz. At that event, I felt the beautiful and wonderful depth and strength of David’s surviving family. My heart goes out to Merritt, Bailey, Zoe, and Missy. May the circle be unbroken…