William A. Brinks
William Archie Brinks, 82, passed away peacefully in December in Bisbee, Arizona surrounded by 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 graduating 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.
Despite being a highly trained and talented engineer, Bill’s roots in the world of food called him back to Santa Barbara in the early 1960’s. He helped his aging parents at the old “Brinks Grocery” at Figueroa and Chapala Streets. After having daughter Pamela, and with the help of his parents and wife Teresa, Bill opened the popular “Brinks Vintage Shop” in 1967 at the newly constructed La Cumbre Plaza Mall. The business catered to both regular customers of Brinks Grocery, as well as new discriminating foodies and wine lovers. Brinks Vintage Shop became a local institution, a go-to source for great wines, cheeses, and gourmet foods. And especially for their handmade deli sandwiches with his popular “goop” dressing…the secret recipe has gone down as a classic, with people in Santa Barbara to this day still talking about it.
Bill Brinks was an early supporter of the emerging Santa Ynez wines, providing the first retail sales locations for a number of now well-known local wines. He recognized quality and wanted to share it, holding tasting parties when such things were rare locally. Early winemakers Bill counted among his many friends include Richard Sanford, Fred Brander, and winegrower Louis Lucas, not to mention the winemakers from north coast counties, such as Chuck Ortman, Carl Doumani, Joe Swan, and Tom Dehlinger.
After 20 years in the gourmet food business, Bill opened a number of restaurants including the popular Pinocchio Restaurant at 21 W. Victoria. After getting out of the restaurant business, Bill started a new life in Sierra Vista, Arizona and got back to his engineering roots. Acting as developer and builder, he created Brinks Construction, building apartment complexes and residential subdivisions. Easing into retirement, he took the reins of the wine department at the Tucson’s branch of Arizona’s finest gourmet food and wine chain, AJ’s, finally retiring to a strawbale home, which he built himself, in a small town just outside Bisbee, Arizona. Bill Brinks was not a man to leave things undone. He always came full circle. Bill Brinks was a happy visionary, gourmet, great friend and father.
Tribute from 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 ever met. He never stopped working. Or thinking. Especially about others. William A. Brinks was extremely lucky in that respect. A selfless man, he was able to bond with most everyone he met. Why? Because he listened to them. He listened to me. He questioned me, yes, “Are you sure?” he would toss back. I either must’ve been sure or must’ve found out. Quickly. He made me make myself better. He made everyone around him better…or they made themselves better, just by being around him. I would not be the man I am today, without the years I spent working with Bill Brinks. Not a chance. So, if I find myself in Vegas, staring at the “G” in the MGM Grand, thinking of Mr. Goldwyn, and luck, I’m going to have to say, he just wasn’t as lucky as I. He never knew William Archie Brinks.
Tribute from Eric. W. Spivey, longtime friend. Bill Brinks was a man with a big vision and even bigger heart. I had the great fortune of knowing him for well 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 to the pioneers of the California wine industry. He also taught me how to listen to customers and overcome obstacles while always staying positive. His glee while reminiscing wonderful stories of the past, generally accompanied with a big smile and a very distinctive laugh, captured the attention of all those who had the privilege to spend time with Bill. From 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 measure, there are SO many people that will never forget my good friend and mentor, Bill Brinks.
A Celebration of Life is planned for April 23 in Santa Barbara. If you would like to attend, contact Pamela Brinks at email@example.com by April 1. In lieu of flowers please donate to your local Hospice organization.