EXPIRED: 09/14/10 – James Winner Jr., 81, invented The Club® after his Cadillac was stolen, despite it having a factory-installed alarm. Too bad the Club didn’t keep him from crossing into oncoming traffic and plowing into another vehicle.
Winner, was born and raised on a farm in Transfer, Pennsylvania, proud of the fact that he was dirt poor. At the age of 5, he was up at 5 a.m. to milk the cows. He attended a one-room schoolhouse and graduated in a class of 8.
At age 13, after watching his parents work so hard for nothing, Winner decided that farming was not for him.
So at 17, he entered the Army and six months later found himself across the ocean in the middle of the Korean War.
Thinking back on his time in the Army, Winner remembered how he once secured his Jeep’s steering wheel with a chain to prevent anyone from stealing it. That memory led him to invent the No. 1 selling mechanical anti-theft device for cars and trucks.
And he never went to college. “The things I learned through trial and error you learn in college,” he was quoted as saying.
After making his millions with The Club®, Winner turned his sights back on his hometown. He wanted to stem the tide of the mass exodus from the farming community that took place in the 80’s and started to rebuild the small villages surrounding Mercer County, Pennsylvania.
He bought and restored buildings, including the downtown Sharon home once owned by industrialist Frank Buhl, which Winner converted into a bed and breakfast. A culinary school, a revitalized downtown cultural center, an art museum, a spa and a Vocal Group Hall of Fame all were in his vision to better the quality of life of his little community.
That, and fewer stolen cars.
Upon retirement, Winner relocated to Hollywood, Florida, but it was back in his little community of Clarion County that he passed away, behind the wheel of his SUV.
It should be noted that Winner took out two men in the other car 82-year-old Bobby Jarrett of Tionesta and his passenger, 76-year-old Raymond Fair of Tylersburg.
Rest in Peace, all you guys.