William A. Brinks – The Santa Barbara Independent

William Archie Brinks, 82, died peacefully in December in Bisbee, Arizona, surrounded by his family. Bill was born in Santa Barbara, California to Vernal and Betty Brinks. He attended Peabody Elementary School, La Cumbre Junior High, and graduated from Santa Barbara High School in 1956. He studied mechanical engineering at California Polytechnic State College in San Luis Obispo and graduated in 1961. Bill was an engineer at Vandenberg Air Force Base where he worked. on the Atlas Rocket program and then at Lockheed Martin in Mountain View.

Although a highly skilled and talented engineer, Bill’s roots in the food business brought him back to Santa Barbara in the early 1960s. He helped his aging parents at the old “Brinks Grocery” in Figueroa and Chapala streets. After having a daughter Pamela and with the help of his parents and his wife Teresa, Bill opened the popular “Brinks Vintage Shop” in 1967 in the new La Cumbre Plaza shopping center. The business catered to both regular Brinks Grocery customers, as well as discerning new foodies and wine connoisseurs. Brinks Vintage Shop has become a local institution, a go-to source for great wines, cheeses and gourmet products. And especially for their handmade deli sandwiches with its popular “goop” dressing…the secret recipe became a classic, and Santa Barbara locals still talk about it today.

Bill Brinks was an early proponent of emerging Santa Ynez wines, providing the first retail outlets for a number of now well-known local wines. He recognized quality and wanted to share it, organizing tasting evenings when this was rare locally. Early winemakers Bill counted among his many friends include Richard Sanford, Fred Brander and winemaker Louis Lucas, not to mention winemakers from the north coast counties such as Chuck Ortman, Carl Doumani, Joe Swan and Tom Dehlinger.

After 20 years in the food business, Bill has opened several restaurants, including the popular Pinocchio restaurant at 21 W. Victoria. After leaving the restaurant business, Bill started a new life in Sierra Vista, Arizona and returned to his engineering roots. Acting as a developer and builder, he established Brinks Construction, building apartment complexes and residential developments. Retiring, he took the reins of the wine department at the Tucson branch of Arizona’s top food and wine chain, AJ’s, eventually retiring to a straw house he built himself in a small town just outside of Bisbee, Arizona. Bill Brinks was not one to leave things hanging. He has always come full circle. Bill Brinks was a happy visionary, foodie, great friend and father.

Tribute to Jim Fiolek, longtime friend Samuel Goldwyn once said, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” By that metric, Bill Brinks was the luckiest man I’ve ever met. He never stopped working. Or think. Especially on others. William A. Brinks was extremely lucky in this regard. A selfless man, he was able to bond with most people he met. Why? Because he listened to them. He listened to me. He asked me, yes, “Are you sure?” he would send back. Either I had to be sure, or I had to find out. Quickly. He made me improve. He made everyone around him better…or they got better, just by being around him. I wouldn’t be the man I am today without the years I spent working with Bill Brinks. No chance. So if I find myself in Vegas, looking at the ‘G’ of the MGM Grand, thinking of Mr. Goldwyn, and being lucky, I have to say he just wasn’t as lucky as I was. He never knew William Archie Brinks.

Tribute from Eric. W. Spivey, longtime friend Bill Brinks was a man with big vision and an even bigger heart. I had the great good fortune to know him for over 40 years. He loved life, loved wine and food, and loved sharing those joys with those around him. Bill introduced me to special wines from around the world and the pioneers of the California wine industry. He also taught me how to listen to customers and overcome obstacles while always staying positive. His joy while reminiscing about wonderful stories from the past, usually accompanied by a big smile and a very distinctive laugh, captured the attention of all who had the privilege of spending time with Bill. In the great words of Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will NEVER forget how you made them feel.” On that metric, there are SO many people who will never forget my good friend and mentor, Bill Brinks.

A celebration of life is scheduled for April 23 in Santa Barbara. If you would like to attend, contact Pamela Brinks at pjbrinks@gmail.com before April 1. In lieu of flowers, please donate to your local Hospice organization.

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