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Chester County Press

Farewell to a friend

Richard C. Winchester passed away this week and a lot of people are now saying farewell to a dear friend.

As a professor, a writer, a teacher, a Democratic activist, a public servant, and a community leader, Winchester is well-respected by many. Mr. Winchester was a longtime friend of this newspaper—and specifically he was a great friend of Irvin Lieberman. Uncle Irv, of course, was the longtime publisher of the Chester County Press until he moved into the role of publisher emeritus as his sons, Randy and Andy, became the second generation of the family to lead the newspaper.

When this writer was hired by the Chester County Press to cover the Oxford beat in the summer of 1996, one of the people that I wrote about early on was Connie Winchester. She was part of the small group of people who helped start the Oxford Area Neighborhood Services Center (NSC) in 1971. As the organization’s longtime executive director, Connie worked tirelessly to achieve the initial mission of NSC—to serve as a valuable lifeline to the most vulnerable men, women, and children in the community. More than 50 years later, that good work continues at NSC. It’s a place where families and individuals can turn to during a time of crisis.

Connie has had quite a positive impact on the world around her, and it’s truly amazing to consider that her impact is matched by the impact of her husband Richard.

Richard C. Winchester was a talented young professor when, during the turbulent 1960s, he fought to end racial injustice. Later, he was selected to serve as the chairman of the Department of History at Lincoln University. He also served for over six years as vice president for academic affairs. Richard retired in 2000 after 39 years of dedicated service to Lincoln University.

He was also a community leader. He was a member of the Oxford Presbyterian Church and in 1971 became an Elder and Commissioner to the General Assembly. He was also very active in Democratic politics. He served as a Committeeman in Lower Oxford Township from 1969 to 2014. He was a candidate for the State legislature and a delegate to the 1968 National Democratic Convention. He was elected to serve on the Oxford Area School Board from 1987 to 1995, and served as school board president in 1990. He was a member and president of the Oxford Educational Foundation, member and president of the Oxford Day Care Board and he served on the Oxford Borough Council from 2020 to 2021.

By the time I started reporting for the Chester County Press, Mr. Winchester’s tenure on the Oxford School Board was over and he was nearing his retirement from Lincoln University. While I can’t remember exactly when I first heard about the esteemed history professor, it was probably Uncle Irv who introduced me to his fine work.

Winchester and Uncle Irv were on the polar opposite ends of the political spectrum: one was a social justice warrior who fought for liberal ideals, while the other was a staunch Republican who favored a small government that didn’t overstep its boundaries.

Their political differences didn’t divide these two highly intelligent men; indeed, the differences helped bring them closer together as they learned from each other. For more than three years in the early 1980s, Winchester even wrote a column called “In Other Words” every other week for the Chester County Press

Winchester never stopped teaching, writing, or working for the ideals that he believed in. He was a co-editor of “The Anti-Imperialist Reader Volume 1” and the editor of “Glimpses of the Past,” a Donegal Presbytery publication. In his later years, he became a public servant again, serving as a council member in Oxford, and he also authored, in 2023, “On Taking Sides,” which is a work based on his time at Lincoln University.

A memorial service for Winchester will be held 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 2 at the Oxford Presbyterian Church, 6 Pine St. in Oxford, where friends and family may visit from 9:30 to 11 a.m. 

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be contributed to the Oxford Educational Foundation at P.O. Box 142, Oxford, PA  19363 or Oxford Neighborhood Services Center at 35 N. Third St., Oxford, PA  19363. These are obviously two organizations very close to Winchester’s heart. A gift in his name to either or both would be a fine way to say farewell to a friend of so many.