On February 1, 2019 Ronald Martin Winans passed away peacefully at the age of 93, ushered into eternity to join his beloved wife, Ella Mae. Ron, as he was known, was born on January 21, 1926 into a blue-collar family in St. Johns, a small suburb of Portland, OR. His mother, Valera, was a textile worker, and his father, Dwight, worked at Boeing during WWII and was a sheet metal worker for the Union Pacific Railroad. After a childhood in St. Johns, Ron graduated in 1944 from Roosevelt High school in Portland, OR.
Ron proudly served as a U.S. Merchant Marine from 1944-47, on overseas duty in the Pacific and England. During his service, Ron worked aboard the following ships: the Paducha Victory at the battle of Okinawa, the Midland Victory, the Mankato Victory, the Mount Rogers, and the Lynan Abbot. In 1988 the Merchant Marines received veteran’s status; something that Ron was very proud of, and in 1996 he received an honorable discharge from the U.S. Coast Guard which gave him, and those he served with, veteran’s status. Ron’s involvement in WWII as a Merchant Marine was an important time in his life and an important part of his identity as part of the Greatest Generation.
After the war, Ron attended the University of Oregon, where he received a B.S. degree in Business Administration and Foreign Trade in 1951. Upon graduation, Ron went to work for General Petroleum (later Mobil Oil Corporation).
Ron met Ella Mae Kelly on a blind date in Portland, OR in 1952, and proposed on New Year ’s Eve 1953. The happy couple were married that May in Pocatello, ID. Shortly after their marriage, Ron was transferred to Boise, ID, where Kelly gave birth to their daughter, Kathryn, in February 1955.
In 1959, Ron went to work for the J.R. Simplot Company in Boise, ID. He began in the Land Development Department, and in 1963 transferred to the Insurance Department. Ron worked his way up in the company, eventually becoming Vice President of Administration in 1982. Over his 37 years at Simplot, Ron earned a reputation as a well-respected, open, honest, and committed administrator and manager, who expected the best and excelled in creating high-functioning teams. He was known to speak his mind and stand up for what he believed in, especially as an advocate for pay scale equity. Ron was very proud of the years he spent at Simplot, the people he met on the job, the many challenges and opportunities provided him, and what he was able to achieve in nearly four decades of service.
Ron was instrumental in establishing the Idaho chapter of the American Society of Insurance Management (ASIM), which later became the Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS) in 1975. Ron served on the RIMS Executive Council from 1980-86, and received the 1999 Goodell Award for his work in furthering the goals of risk management and RIMS through outstanding achievement. Ron also served in many professional organizations, including as a member of the Board of Directors of the Greater Boise Chamber of Commerce and as a trustee of the Boise State University Foundation, Inc.
He was an active life member of the Optimist Club of Boise, and coached the club’s football team for 13 years. Ron and Ella Mae were also active members of the Hillcrest Country Club, Bronco Athletic Association, Hillcrest Neighborhood Association, and other community and non-profit organizations.
Ron retired from Simplot in 1986. In retirement, Ron and Kelly enjoyed extensive travels together throughout the U.S. and the world, splitting their time between Boise, and timeshares in Palm Desert, CA; Maui, HI; and Elkhorn, ID. They stayed active at the Hillcrest Country Club and Boise’s First Presbyterian Church, enjoyed spending time with friends and family, and took great joy in following and supporting their grandson’s many activities through school and beyond. During retirement Ron enjoyed the creative outlet of painting and drawing, and many of his works grace the walls of friends and family.
Ron loved following sports of all kinds, especially the BSU Broncos, and could tell you the school colors of most every college team in the United States, schools large and small. He was most generous in his support of many educational, arts, search and rescue, health, first responder, military and political organizations Many words have been used to describe Ron: loyal, disciplined, kind, generous, stubborn, organized, frugal, tenacious, honest, persistent, dedicated, passionate, and faithful. He was a patriot, proud of his country, and grateful to God for the long life he lived, and hopeful that what he did with the time he was given on earth was done for good.
Ron is preceded in death by his wife, Ella Mae Kelly Winans (1923-2011). He is survived by his daughter, Kathryn (Mark), of Seattle, WA and two grandsons, Paul and John.
A memorial for Ron will be held at First Presbyterian Church Boise in the spring 2019.