Bruce H. and Karen Winegar

Bruce H. Winegar and his wife Karen have been selected by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be the president and matron of the Pocatello Idaho Temple.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has chosen a retired manager with J.R. Simplot Co. and his wife, who worked as a local substitute teacher, to serve as president and matron of the future Pocatello Idaho Temple.

Bruce H. Winegar, 73, of the Highland 1st Ward, Pocatello Idaho Highland Stake, and Karen Finch Winegar will serve a three-year church calling beginning in October, when they’ll head to Salt Lake City for a temple president’s training seminar.

“When they made the announcement, everybody here was really excited about it because the Winegars are well known in the community,” said Larry Fisher, the church’s regional public affairs director. “People really love and respect them.”

Though the Winegars reside in Pocatello, Bruce has been serving as first counselor to the president of the Idaho Falls Temple, and Karen has been assistant matron there.

In Idaho Falls, Bruce said the temple president oversees about 2,200 workers who perform various religious ordinances, such as marriages, sealings and baptisms.

He anticipates he and his wife will oversee a comparable group of ordinance workers in Pocatello. He said turnover is high among temple workers and much of their time will be devoted to training.

The Winegars will relinquish their duties in Idaho Falls upon starting work in Pocatello. They hope to participate in an open house for the Pocatello temple in a little more than a year.

“There’s a lot of interest in the community in knowing they can come here and it won’t be as far to travel as Idaho Falls,” Bruce said, adding the temple’s ongoing construction draws onlookers every day.

Bruce said the temple will serve church members from as far away as Malad.

“It will be a meeting point — a place where people can come and pray and meditate and be spiritually uplifted,” Bruce said.

Bruce was born in Salt Lake City. Karen is from Logan, Utah.

The Winegars moved to Pocatello in 1975. Bruce worked for J.R. Simplot for 32 years. His background was in chemical engineering, but he made his career in management, working from the Pocatello office for Simplot’s environmental group based in Boise.

He retired in 2007 and was called by his church to be a mission president in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, where he and his wife remained until 2010. In late, 2010, they moved back to Pocatello, where he’s been doing some part-time environmental consulting work for Simplot.

Karen graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in elementary education. She and her husband had eight children who attended Lewis & Clark Elementary School in Pocatello, where she served as president of both the PTA and PTO. She was also a member of the Pocatello High School alumni board.

Karen worked as a local substitute teacher for several years. She and Bruce also opened their home to a 22-year-old man from Micronesia, who they’ve come to regard as one of their own children.

“We love this community so much and we feel like we have a great community of many faiths,” Karen said.