In Memoriam: Michael Corvino, president of JansSport, killed in car accident

Michael Corvino, president of JanSport, died July 14 as a result of injuries sustained when his vintage 1970 Dodge Charger veered off the road and crashed into a tree. He was 46 years old.
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Michael Corvino, president of JanSport, died July 14 as a result of injuries sustained when his vintage 1970 Dodge Charger veered off the road and crashed into a tree. He was 46 years old.

According to CHP reports, Corvino was accelerating while making a left turn just east of Danville, Calif., a city across the bay from San Francisco, when he apparently lost control of his vehicle. The car hit a tree on the driver's side. Corvino's 16-year-old daughter, Alexandra, and a 16-year-old friend, John Shaner, were riding in the car when the accident occurred. Both were taken to John Muir Medical Center with minor injuries according to the CHP report.

All in the car were wearing seatbelts. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

Corvino was named president of San Leandro, Calif.-based, JanSport, a subsidiary of VF Corp., in 2004. He was a former professional football player for the Washington Federals of the USFL and a Maryland Terrapin University linebacker with a school record for most sacks. Despite his tough football reputation, Corvino was a big teddy bear of a man with an even bigger heart, according to those who remembered him to SNEWS®.

Known to his friends as "Vino", Corvino was a special man who cared so deeply about those around him, according to Frank Fenton, vice president of sales at JanSport.

"He was a great, great leader, and a tremendous people person," Fenton told SNEWS® in a phone call from the Corvino home Sunday afternoon, July 15. "He turned out to be an even better friend than a leader, and he's the best leader I have ever worked for.

"’Caring’ was one of his big words,…and he didn't use the word lightly like others sometimes do," said Fenton. "He talked about surrounding the company with people who cared, because the rest of the needs for a company could be developed. Michael lived caring every day. He was concerned about the people he worked with, his customers, his friends, his family. He was a well-rounded man…a real human being."

Larry Harrison, who has worked as a rep for five JanSport presidents, told SNEWS®, "It didn't take long after meeting him for me to be walking behind him at Outdoor Retailer and pointing him out to a couple of folks I know saying, 'That's my new president and I am proud of him.'

"When you want to follow someone, and are proud of working for them, that makes them a real leader, and Vino was that kind of guy. He could make you laugh, and then turn around and say something to provoke you into action and thought," said Harrison.

SNEWS® View: Our team offers Michael Corvino's family and his extended JanSport family our sincere condolences and prayers. Another life cut too short for reasons we will never be able to fathom.

SNEWS® remembers our first meeting with Michael shortly after he was named president. His smile was as large in life as he was, and he filled the room with a gentle, but commanding presence. We remember Michael asking questions of the sales team presenting us with new product information with a tone that conveyed an eagerness to learn and a real excitement to be part of the JanSport family. We also remember his sense of humor, firm handshake, and ability to make and take jokes about himself.

In his too-short tenure as president, Michael left a legacy of leadership that should become a shining example of how to lead with compassion and strength. In that room during our first meeting, and in subsequent encounters, Michael's presence was never one of ego or a supervising shadow that changed the tone or feeling of a room whenever he entered. He made those around him want to do better, be better, and help others become better. In the face of this tragedy, we suspect that the JanSport team will somehow carry on, buoyed by the knowledge that by caring for each other and those around them -- customers, clients, friends -- they will be making a positive impact on their world, which is what Michael would want and demand.

Michael Corvino will be missed. More importantly, though, his life will long be remembered as an inspiration of how to live. And that is the mark of a great human being.

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