The beloved Tim’s Wine Market of Windermere employee, who touched so many in the community, died Friday, March 18.
| 1:06 p.m. March 30, 2016
WINDERMERE Children who went along when their parents shopped for wine at Tim’s Wine Market in Windermere were always taken aback when the British man at the checkout counter would ask them a simple question: “So, did you drive here today?”
Some looked confused, looking to their parents for help. Others understood the man’s joking manner and played along. But no child — no person — ever left Tim’s without some sort of conversation with Paul Price.
Price, a beloved employee of Tim’s Wine Market of Windermere and an “adopted” Windermere resident, died in his sleep on Friday, March 18. He was just three days short of his 55th birthday. He is survived by his father, John Price; younger brother, Nick Price; and sister, Sallie Price.
Because of Price’s lasting impact on the town, it is only fitting that on April 10, friends and family will reconnect and come together to remember the man who connected with and befriended so many people. They will raise their glasses in memory of Price. Stephanie Desaulniers, Price’s friend and Dixie Cream Cafe owner, said if he could be there to feel the love that will fill the room and witness the toast, he would probably be in tears.
“Paul would want everyone to raise a glass or two,” said Craig Lopus, manager of Tim’s Wine Market’s Windermere location.
FROM ENGLAND TO WINDERMERE
Price was born in England, just outside London, and lived there until his father moved the family to Johannesburg, South Africa. While he grew up there, apartheid was still very real, but he fell in love with the country, even learning Afrikaans.
When he was a high-school senior, his family moved back to England, but shortly after, they moved to the United States and settled in Apopka, where his father bought a chicken farm. Price went on to join the U.S. military, serving as a paratrooper in the Army Airborne. Despite his British heritage, Paul loved the U.S. and the concept of democracy.
“He loved reading political analysis and was a keen observer of the democratic process and was a lifelong Democrat,” Lopus said. “He loved to talk politics, argue positions and speculate.”
Upon his eventual return to Orlando about 16 years ago, Price ended up working at the original Dexter’s location. There, he met and became friends with Tim Varan, the owner of Tim’s Wine Market. Varan later hired Price, who loved wine and beer and was very knowledgeable about them, to work at the downtown Orlando location.
When Varan decided to open his Windermere location about seven years later, he assigned Price, who lived in Winter Park, the duty of store manager.
“Paul came in and painted all the walls and got the store ready, so Paul’s essence is in every nook and cranny of the store,” Lopus said. “He put the shelves up, he prepared the store for opening and then he ran the store.”
Varan eventually sold the location to Lopus as a franchise, and Price went from being the boss to the employee.
And although he explored working for two different wine distributors throughout the years and loved traveling, he came to the conclusion he was happiest talking to customers and selling wines in the store.
When Desaulniers bought the space for Dixie Cream Cafe more than five years ago, it was a run-down, old convenience store.
“I’m looking at a disheveled, broken-down ceiling of a stinky, abandoned convenience store that I’ve signed a lease for, and now came the time of finding a builder and vision for it,” she said.
She met Price after stopping in at the wine shop, and the first thing he did when he heard of her dilemma was hand her a business card of a local builder who could fix up and transform the sad-looking space.
“For me to trust in Paul and to feel that comfortable and follow up on a lead from someone I just recently met, it opened up a door for me that I wouldn’t have found otherwise,” she said. “He could guide you to someone who could build your restaurant; he could guide you to your favorite wine. You knew he wasn’t for himself. He was there for you.”
Both inside and outside the wine shop, Price had a knack for connecting with people and making everyone feel special.
“His customers came to trust him; everyone who walked in the door felt special,” Lopus said. “Everyone felt that Paul was a friend. He loved to give people nicknames that these people were never called, but that they liked. That was their connection to him.”
Lopus called him an observer of the human condition, who was fascinated by people’s backgrounds, lifestyles and interests. Price loved getting to know people and was great with sharing stories and finding a common thread with others.
“Windermere is a great community, so having Paul leave us and leave such a huge hole … he was a huge part of that wine market,” Desaulniers said. “It’s like a part of your family is gone.”
When everyone raises their glasses in that collective toast on April 10, the heartache will be felt across the room, but so will the way Price touched so many lives and filled so many hearts.
“Paul was a friend to everyone he met,” said Windermere Mayor Gary Bruhn. “He would always go out of his way to help you and always had a smile and a good word. … Even though he didn’t live in Windermere, we always considered him a Windermereian as his heart was in this town.”