Professor Emeritus Edgar "Bud" Winans

Professor Emeritus Edgar "Bud" Winans
Professor Emeritus Edgar "Bud" Winans

Edgar "Bud" Vincent Winans (1930 – 2017) Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at the University of Washington died July 14, 2017. Bud was an internationally recognized scholar and teacher, expert on African culture, politics, and economy.

For half a century, Bud was a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Washington. During his long career, he was one of the first American anthropologists to concentrate on East Africa, and saw many African countries achieve their national independence. He held positions in various United Nations (UN) offices as well as offices of the Ford Foundation and was one of the few non-Africans to work for the newly developing government of independent Kenya. He published a variety of books and papers, from anthropological examinations of the peoples of Tanzania to an economic planning prospectus for the Kenyan government. He was also a Member of the Board at The Overlake School in Redmond, WA during the initial decade of the school’s existence.

Bud was born April 23, 1930, in Salt Lake City, UT to Edgar McKinley Winans and Marye Vincent Winans. From an early age, he called himself an itinerant. He grew up in the Southwest, where his family relocated many times during his childhood. As an adult, he continued the life of a traveler, explorer, writer, thinker, and analyst. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees and a doctorate in anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1959. He was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity.

As a graduate student, he studied under Professor Walter Goldschmidt, a UCLA Anthropologist with a focus in East Africa. After learning Swahili and winning a Fellowship from the Social Science Research Council, Bud and his young wife Patricia, began his field work in the Usambara Mountains in Tanganyika (today the Republic of Tanzania) from 1955-1957.

After teaching at the UW and the University of California Riverside (UCR), for his early years as a young professor, he returned to East Africa in 1961 with his young family, Patty, daughter Gretchenwho was born in Kampala, Uganda during their first field work—and son John. They were based this time in Iringa, Tanganyika as part of a research team headed by Goldschmidt, and funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

In 1966, Bud joined the UW faculty. In 1968, he and his family returned to Nairobi, Kenya to work with the Kenyan Ministry of Planning and Economic Development. He came back to the UW full-time in 1970, and built a reputation as one of the most renowned lecturers on campus. From 1977-1979, Winans again returned to Kenya to work for the Ford Foundation. In 1995, Patty, his long time and intrepid partner in each of these adventures, died. 

His life as a professor provided essential structure to guide him beyond the grief and loss of Patty. He shared these last 18 years with his wife Janet (Whiting Levee) after their marriage in 1999, as he continued his life as an important mentor to students. He retired in 2003, while continuing at the UW as an emeritus professor. He also worked as a consultant for several UN offices, and held visiting professorships in Denmark and Sweden.

His longtime joy was teaching and the relationships it created. He was regularly in touch with friends, colleagues, and former students all over the world.

Bud is survived by his wife, Janet (Whiting, LeVee) and his children, Gretchen (Paul) Schreiber and John (Suzanne) Winans, and his grandchildren, Kate Winans, and Caroline, Kevin (Kristen), and Catherine Schreiber. He was predeceased by his first wife, Patricia Boyce Winans (1930-1995).

Memorial contributions may be made to The Ottenberg-Winans Endowed Africa Fund, established to honor the contributions of Professors Simon Ottenberg and Edgar V. Winans to the African Studies Program at the University of Washington.

A memorial celebrating Bud's life will be held October 1st. Please contact Janet Winans at for time and location if you would like to attend.

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