Thursday, July 29, 2004

Retirement wasn't idle time for L. Winiarski

Insurance exec sold produce

By Meagan Pollnow
Enquirer staff writer

After Leonard Winiarski retired in 1990, he couldn't sit still.

After eating corn at his daughter's home in Bath, Ind., the former Western-Southern Life Insurance Co. vice president wandered next door to thank the farmer neighbors for the fresh and tasty produce.

He decided then that he wanted others to share his enthusiasm for locally grown fruits and vegetables and opened a produce stand in Westwood.

Winiarski, known as the "fresh produce man of Western Hills" died Saturday of complications from congestive heart failure. He was 71.

Winiarski's son Christopher, of Westwood, said he took pride in his produce stand, located at Sylved and Muddy Creek roads.

"He would get up at 3 a.m. and go to local farms and then start selling produce," he said, "seven days a week." He ran the stand from June through October each year until 2002.

Bill Weber of Delhi Township, Winiarski's best friend, said he had "the ability to give and give, and give some more."

"You would always walk away with more than you bought," Weber said. "He had a little way of giving you more, giving you a hug, walking you to your car."

Weber said that if someone asked for a couple ears of corn, they would go home with at least four ears of corn and a couple of tomatoes.

"He sold out every day," he said. "He bought new produce every day."

Winiarski's generosity didn't end when he left the produce stand.

He donated time and money to the Catholic community and volunteered as a crossing guard at St. Catherine of Siena Primary School, his son said. In 1997, he was voted Cincinnati's "Crossing Guard of the Year."

He also served in the U.S. Air Force from 1953-57 in Korea.

Weber recalled an instance when Winiarski's generosity saved his life.

When Weber, who worked with Winiarski at Western-Southern for 25 years, was in Florida traveling with his family, he called Winiarski and told him he was feeling very ill. Winiarski met Weber and his family at the airport. He came with a wheelchair and took Weber directly to the hospital.

Once there, doctors diagnosed Weber with appendicitis.

"The next day, when my parents were at my bedside, the doctor told me - 'If that man didn't get you here right away yesterday, I don't know what would've happened.'"

In addition to his son, survivors include his wife of 48 years, Patricia; another son, Leonard Jr. of Bridgetown, and daughters Patricia of Delhi Township, Stephanie of Hidden Valley, Grace of Bath and Jacquelyn of North Bend; sisters Antoinette Samm and Dolores Kampert; brother, Francis; and 15 grandchildren.

Visitation will be 9-10:50 a.m. today, followed by a Mass of Christian burial at 11 a.m. at St. Catherine of Siena, 2848 Fischer Place, Westwood. Memorial contributions may be made to the Fresh Fund at St. Catherine of Siena.


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