A friend of Samoa, Simi Winegar, passes away
Samoa has lost a very special friend with the passing of James Simi Winegar.
Aged 84, Mr. Winegar, who is originally from Idaho, U.S.A., died peacefully last Sunday as a result of cancer. He is survived by his wife Brenda Parcell Winegar and all of his children, including his son, Warren Winegar, who shared the sad news with the Samoa Observer.
“He was such a great friend, advocate and even native son of Samoa. It was truly his happiest place on earth,” Warren wrote.
Many people who knew Simi would know how much he loved Samoa.
“This love was developed during his missionary service but became a permanent part of his being. He proved adept with the Samoan language and customs,” his obituary reads.
“So much so that he was considered a native son. He loved nothing more than finding Samoans throughout the world and start speaking to them. When they asked how he learned Samoan, there was always a wise crack, like, “I took an internet class”.
“But then he would wow them with colloquialisms that proved this statement wrong. The element of surprise always delighted him.”
Simi’s Samoa adventures started in the 1950s.
“Jim and some former missionary friends desired to find ways to give back to Samoa and help their economy, as well as preserve some of the natural and historic beauties of the country.
“This led to two major collaborative projects which Jim spearheaded and nursed along. First was the establishment of the Falealupo Rainforest Preservation area, the largest conservation effort ever undertaken in Samoan history. This preserved 30,000 acres of pristine habitat for rare native wildlife, medicinal plants and ecological wonders.
“Second was the restoration of Villa Vailima, the home and grave site of the famed late 19th Century author Robert Louis Stevenson. This was a tremendous undertaking that involved engagement from the Prime Minister to High Chiefs in accomplishing a full and complete restoration of the magnificent 1890s home.
“Along with his great friend Tilafaiga Rex Maughan and many others, this endeavor led to a lasting monument of their love of the country and people, as the house became The RLS Museum. Jim served as its President from 1994 and made multiple trips there each year.”
The following is Simi’s full Obituary from the Nelson Family Mortuary:
“James Stoddard Winegar was born into a loving home on September 21, 1936 in Preston, Idaho to Lulo Hancey and Glen Stoddard Winegar. The second of four boys and two sisters, his family lived the majority of his young life in Salt Lake City.
Jim was ever curious and inquisitive as a child and throughout his lifetime. He took great pains to understand the people and places around him. Possessed with a keen memory for details he could recall the minutae of people’s lives - a gift he dazzled all with throughout his life.
He created a following of people around him through his vibrant personality and boundless energy. He possessed a demeanor that put others at ease, creating simple bonds of trust. This was a trait that started early with his many, many friends at South High School including the love of his life, Brenda Parcell. He and Brenda continued their relationship long distance while Jim served voluntary missionary service for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Western Samoa from 1956-1958. Shortly after his return they married and established their home in Salt Lake City where their first four children were born: Stephen James, Angela (Bussio), Kristen (Sorensen) and Eric Parcell.
Jim would hold an array of executive positions and ventures across several areas of focus during his long professional career: from pharmaceuticals to aerospace technology and composites, to cosmetics. No matter the product or process, he had an ability to communicate and market to great effect.
As a child and young adult, Jim took a great interest in medicine and got his first job at age 16 as an orderly at the Salt Lake City County Hospital. This early exposure to medicine would lead to a lasting attraction to medical science. His first real job was in pharmaceutical sales and led to a 20-year executive career with the William H. Roher Company (now a part of Rhone-Poulenc SA) covering a large territory across the United States. His extensive travels gave him a great knowledge of the country, regional flairs and varied cuisines. He and Brenda moved to Denver, CO where their fifth child, Warren Stoddard, was born. Later they moved to Danville, CA where their sixth and final child, Rebecca, was born.
In 1980, Jim joined his best friend and brother-in-law Larry Ashton in developing and growing a highly technical composites company, Fibertec and later Ashton Engineering, in Provo, UT. Together, they were an amazing team of technological innovation from Larry, and business and marketing savvy from Jim. Their collaboration lasted for 47 years – to the very end of each of their lives – with Jim continuing some of Larry’s ideas until only a few weeks ago. Theirs was an irreplaceable bond of brotherhood that was a defining element of his life.
In 1986, Jim took an opportunity to introduce an innovative new medical device for a company based in Rochester, NY. This full change of venue and lifestyle - from West to East Coast - added a richness to his family’s life and relationships.
Jim later would lend his marketing expertise to many different companies and individuals through his consultancy business that continued until September 2020. His clients and contracts took him around the world: from Australia to Japan, from China to the United Kingdom, and beyond.
After his family, his second great love was the paradisical island nation of Western Samoa. This love was developed during his missionary service but became a permanent part of his being. He proved adept with the Samoan language and customs. So much so that he was considered a native son. He loved nothing more than finding Samoans throughout the world and start speaking to them. When they asked how he learned Samoan, there was always a wise crack, like, “I took an internet class”. But then he would wow them with colloquialisms that proved this statement wrong. The element of surprise always delighted him.
He was fortunate to have had all six of his children and many of his grandchildren go with him to experience Samoa in “Simi-style”. He seemed to know everyone and everything on the island.
Starting in the late 1980s, Jim and some former missionary friends desired to find ways to give back to Samoa and help their economy, as well as preserve some of the natural and historic beauties of the country. This led to two major collaborative projects which Jim spearheaded and nursed along. First was the establishment of the Falealupo Rainforest Preservation area, the largest conservation effort ever undertaken in Samoan history. This preserved 30,000 acres of pristine habitat for rare native wildlife, medicinal plants and ecological wonders.
Second was the restoration of Villa Vailima, the home and grave site of the famed late 19th Century author Robert Louis Stevenson. This was a tremendous undertaking that involved engagement from the Prime Minister to High Chiefs in accomplishing a full and complete restoration of the magnificent 1890s home. Along with his great friend Tilafaiga Rex Maughan and many others, this endeavor led to a lasting monument of their love of the country and people, as the house became The RLS Museum. Jim served as its President from 1994 and made multiple trips there each year.
Jim became a “Stevensonphile” and thrust himself into a universe filled with diverse and interesting characters. Finally, his inner poet found an outlet! Within this sphere, Jim was referred to as Tusitala, the story-teller, which was the same Samoan title given to Robert Louis Stevenson in his lifetime.
Later in life, he and Brenda combined their skill sets, along with their daughter Becca, and offered voluntary humanitarian service through a multi-year plan of targeted visits to Samoa, to establish support and education programs for the disabled. This was something that was new and innovative to the country, with a goal of giving family support and structure. Jim provided the translation while Brenda and Becca brought the heart and soul of the effort. His love of children, playful approach and expert teasing gave body to this wonderful combination of his and Brenda’s talents and vast experiences.
The real Jim is a story of tremendous capacity as a caring and compassionate friend. Anyone who had the fortune of knowing him knew they could count on him. He met you where you were and knew how to show caring and tell you what you needed to hear, even if the truth might sting. He was always quick to lend an ear, offer his time, dispense pearls of wisdom, and color it all with wit, humor and heart. He was engaged and engaging with people, causes and concerns all around him. These moments also allowed for him to tell a story, or two, along the way. His gift of gab was animated by his facial and physical gestures and his infectious laugh.
Decades of service to his church, local and global communities brought the Pastor’s heart to all his efforts. Whether he was the Bishop of a large student ward, teaching Sunday School or in the nursery with little children, he brought the same energy and love to the effort. He learned from his parents how to serve and took service seriously in all of its forms. His testimony of Jesus Christ was unwavering, and his life was proof of this by his actions and words.
He established a strong family culture of fun, jokes, proper grammar, music, and great food. He and Brenda had a “Big Tent” approach to people in all their shapes, sizes, troubles and glories. There were always extra folks around the house. Sunday dinners provided time for family - and those who felt like family - to come together, eat, discuss and laugh.
One of the greatest legacies that he and Larry Ashton left to all their posterity was the nearly annual summer tradition of Beach House – a week in Newport Beach, California of sun-kissed loud laughter that defined all their childhoods and created the most exciting family memories.
Jim usually was the master of ceremonies at any event he attended. His favorite holiday was really April Fool’s Day as any close to him can attest with a story or two. As an official card-carrying surrogate of Santa Claus himself, Jim startled many households with the brief sound of jingle bells before barging in on unsuspecting family Christmas Eve activities over more than five decades. But it was always to their delight – especially by year three – when they realized he was just going to keep coming back . . .
While his last several months were not easy or comfortable due to the two forms of cancer he was battling, Jim showed his family and friends once again how to make his exit with grace and kindness. His final month of life found the great communicator unable to speak as a consequence of myasthenia gravis, brought on by his immunotherapy treatment. However, he never lost his personality. The jokes kept coming as did his personal interest in his medical and nursing staff - engaging with them how ever he could. One day, he reminded everyone, “I don’t know when the final hour will come, but I know that I will be here until the end!”
He also chose to focus on two Samoan words: Filemu and Lototele. These guided his mental state and established his mindset. His last four days of life – finally released from more than three weeks in the hospital – were at home. Surrounded by loved ones, he continued to offer personal expressions of love. Even in this state, he met people where they were and knew how they needed to be treated. He was a man at peace with his condition and prepared to meet his God. One can only imagine what a grand welcoming party he is MC-ing right now, with those who have preceded him.
He is survived by his wife Brenda Parcell Winegar and all of his children along with his siblings Glen Robert Winegar (Miriam) of Salt Lake City, Paul Wynn Winegar (Ethel) of Atlanta, GA, Penny Winegar Smith of Houston, TX, Laurie Winegar Thomsen (Mark) and Carroll Winegar (Fred) of Salt Lake City. Jim and Brenda have 22 grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and several on the way. He is pre-deceased by his parents, his brother Fred, and his two oldest grandsons James Joseph Winegar and Anthony Vincent Bussio.
His funeral service can be viewed at any time in perpetuity at the following website from Saturday, October 24, 2020: https://www.nelsonmortuary.com/memorials/james-winegar/4363220/index.php