December 16, 1969—July 11, 2019
Last week, we lost our beloved James Winterholer. He was born on December 16, 1969 in Twin Falls. When we were kids, no one was cooler in our eyes than Uncle James. To us, he was the equivalent of Tom Petty or John Mellencamp with his raspy voice, leather jackets, and Camel Lights. He had no fear and would always be up to some shenanigans, most of which were incredibly daring and dangerous. A brilliant madman, he kept us all entertained. James wrote poetry, could do self-taught backflips on command, told the best jokes, would disappear and return with adventure stories, climbed mountains, and was always laughing.
Eventually, our eternal Peter Pan settled down a bit and married the love of his life, Ginny. They moved to Bend, Oregon to start a small farm and be closer to nature. During this time, James was diagnosed with a rare and terminal stomach cancer. He was determined to beat the odds and miraculously was cured after an experimental surgery. The side effect of this procedure was almost guaranteed paralysis. Three months later, with the help of his amazing wife, James was again riding his mountain bike. The friendship and bond that they shared was beyond measure, and he and Ginny spent over 20 wonderful years together. Their daughter, Kate, was the light of his life and he felt so lucky to finally have the experience of being a father. Kate wants everyone to know that he was her hero.
James suffered from debilitating bipolar depression, and as the years wore on, his manic episodes became more pronounced. He was incredibly honest and proactive regarding his mental illness. He became close friends with a group of famous American Buddhist philosophers and travelled the world to chase his peace. During intense dark periods, he would usually disappear and then reappear after a silent Buddhist retreat in some far away land. As hard as he worked on his harmony, the voices would always return and the manic episodes got closer and closer together.
He hadn’t fully returned to his bright self these last two years. It would look promising, and then end in heartbreak. In the whole world, he adored no one more than his father. For the past months, he had been finding safety and stability that only his sturdy parents, Jim and Marian Winterholer, could provide. On July 11th, he took his own life on their property in Twin Falls. We like to think that he just wanted to be close to his daddy at the end. This loss is the third suicide in our family, making suicide the leading cause of death for us. Two of these losses have taken place within the last four months and include our sunshine, Mona Winterholer, James’ sister. Losing James feels like a piece of our soul has been stolen. We will end with the quote that has become a family mantra and the ending to far too many obituaries lately:
Say too much. Show too much. Love too much. Everything is temporary but love. Love will outlive us all.
A celebration of life will take place on Sunday, July 21 at 9:30 a.m. at Rock Creek Park.
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