James Melcher was born in North Adams, Massachusetts on November 5, 1939. He moved to New York City to attend Columbia University where he joined the fencing team as a freshman. With no prior fencing experience, the coach, who needed lefties, asked him to try out. He was not a naturally gifted athlete, but he stuck with it and continued to fence after he graduated. He joined Fencers Club and took lessons with coach Michel Alaux. Michel became his teacher, mentor, and close friend. Over the years Jamie got better through hard work, practice, and determination. Despite having a full-time job and being married with two children, he managed to fence most weekday nights and compete in tournaments on many weekends.
His results started to improve, and he became an alternate for the 1968 Olympics, just missing the team. He did make the Pan-American team in 1971 and won a gold (team) and a bronze (individual) medal there. He also began to compete in Europe and made the finals of two World Cup tournaments in 1971 ranking him, for a period, in the top 15 in the world- an unusual accomplishment at that time for an American, especially in epee!
In 1971 and 1972, he won the US National Championships and made the 1972 US Olympic team in Munich. He continued to compete on and off for many years including making the Maccabi team in 1981 alongside his son, Charlie Melcher, who at the time was two-time U-16 Junior National Champion.
Over the years he contributed to the sport in many ways including being elected as a representative for the US Olympic Committee where he sat on the athlete's advisor council and serving as the President of Fencers Club for many years.
Jamie continued to fence at Fencers Club his entire life, and in his later years was a regular with the senior epee fencers who fenced and lunched together on Sundays. He was always happy to share advice and give encouragement to a young fencer, and cheer on his friends and fellow Fencers Club teammates.
Later in his career, after Jamie had great success in his business, Balestra Capital, he gave generously to support the Columbia Fencing Program (where his daughter, Liz Luckett had been captain), and to FC to help purchase their first permanent space. After helping the Club move half a dozen times over the previous 60 years, FC owning its own facility was something he passionately wanted to see happen. Along with his pride in his family, this is one of his most cherished legacies-a gift back to the club that had nurtured him as a young fencer and had been the source of so much learning, friendship, and joy! Fencers Club was really a place that Jamie considered a second home, and he couldn't be more excited that it finally has a beautify, permanent address to provide a home for other fencers for generations to come.