Paul A. McEwen, 91, died peacefully at Westgate Gardens in Visalia, Monday, Aug. 21, 2005, with family at his side. He loved the San Joaquin Valley and all that it had to offer as he raised his three children, Shirie, Paulette and George, with his loving wife, Peggy.
McEwen was born Sept. 28, 1913, in San Diego to George Francis and Mae Alice McEwen of La Jolla, Calif. He attended San Diego High School and graduated in 1936 from University of Southern California with a degree in business administration.
Growing up on the cliffs by Scripps Institute of Oceanography, he shared his love for the ocean with his father, the world's first physical oceanographer for Scripps. It was common for him to dive off the pier and swim out to the anchored boat where his father worked.
When a small boy, during the summers of the early 1920s, he spent time with John Browning, designer of Browning guns, hunting squirrels along the beach of La Jolla. He received a Browning 22 from him. As a youth, he raised bees and wholesaled his honey in Los Angeles. He also was the first ranger for Borrego Springs State Park in San Diego County.
While on a leave of absence from school, he worked for Limoneira in Santa Paula, Calif. It was at that time that he made his first trip via his Model A Ford to Tulare County, wandered the country roads and found that special parcel of land northeast of Exeter.
In 1937, McEwen planted that original ten acres with citrus, adding more acreage as time passed. Merryman was his home from 1941-1950. In 1950, he moved his family to what has been home all these years near his first plantings.
During World War II, McEwen had a small dairy of 30 milk cows and was also employed by Van Cleve Pipe Company. He joined C.J. Hammers Machinery Co. from 1945-1957 working in various capacities and started his nursery in 1955. He left Hammers to become a full-time nurseryman and rancher.
By the 1960s, McEwen had one of the largest citrus nurseries in the Valley, supplying trees for orchards as far south as Temecula, Calif., and as far north as Orville, Calif. He branched out, raising olives and avocados in the 1960s and pistachios in the late 1970s. Even after his son, George, took over the ranch operation, McEwen could never completely retire from the work he loved as a nurseryman and was active until the age of 89. Through the years, he found time to fish in Alaska and California as well as RV-ing with their Good Sam group.
As a grower he held membership in the California Citrus Nurseryman's Society, Tulare County Farm Bureau and California Avocado Society.
His parents, George Francis and Mae Alice McEwen of La Jolla, preceded him in death. He is survived by Charlotte (Peggy) L. Andrews McEwen, his wife of 66 years; his sister, Dora Ellen Reynolds and husband John of Salem, Ore.; his daughter, Shirie Sue Drath and husband Jim of Wasilla, Alaska; Paul's grandchildren, Jim Drath of Soldotna, Alaska, and Julie Anne Garden and husband Chris and great-grandchildren Kendall and Eston Garden of Wasilla, Alaska; his daughter, Paulette Jensen and husband Hans B. of Santa Barbara, Calif.; and Paul's grandchildren, Michael Gann and wife Cassie of San Luis Obispo, Calif., Tamara Feller and husband Paul and great-grandchildren Alexandra and Ryan of Santa Barbara; and Hans Brett Jensen of San Diego; and his son, George McEwen and wife Linda and Paul's grandchildren Matt and wife Lisa, great-grandchildren Alex and Lauren of Exeter, P.T. McEwen and wife Wendy of Highland, Calif.; and Robert A. McEwen of Taos, N.M.
A memorial service was led by Pastor Bill Haynes at 11 a.m. Friday, Aug. 26, at Smith Family Chapel of Exeter. Donations may be made to the Memorial Fund of the Exeter Boys and Girls Club, 362 E. Pine St., Exeter.