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Remembering Paul Grundland

[Parts of this article are adapted from an obituary by Amanda Bradford that appeared in The Daily Californian.]

   Paul Grunland, a founding board member of Berkeley Path Wanderers Association, noted local historian, and dedicated community volunteer, died February 2. He was 93. 

   “Paul was a major factor BPWA’s success,” said Jacque Ensign, BPWA co-founder and first president. “He became a very positive force as the board formed.”
   
   Jacque remembers that Paul also was instrumental in the creation of the first BPWA map of Berkeley’s pathways in 1998, and his essay “A Brief History of the Berkeley Paths,” has been printed on all eight editions.          

   According to Jacque, Paul’s experience in retail sales was crucial in getting the map into local stores and led to the first run of 3,000 copies quickly selling out.

    As our twice-monthly walks became routine, Paul led many of them, especially in Northeast Berkeley, Kensington, and El Cerrito. [See the description below of the Paul Grunland Memorial Walk on May 5.]

    “Paul was one of those people who had an insatiable curiosity and a love of civic engagement,” said BPWA President Colleen Neff. “He would always come up to me and say he had an idea about how to improve things around the city.”

    She added that he was one of the only people she knew who did not have a cellphone, email, or answering machine. “When BPWA switched from a paper to an electronic newsletter, we made sure that we printed a copy and mailed to him each month.”

    Paul also was an active member of the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association (BAHA), Berkeley Historical Society (BHS), and El Cerrito Historical Society, and the Sierra Club.

   Born in Portland, Oregon, Paul moved to a family farm in South Dakota and then to Berkeley in grade school. “He could remember walking up behind Memorial Stadium when there were cows on those hills,” said Jeanine Castello-Lin, vice president of BHS and Paul’s longtime friend.

   He earned both engineering and MBA degrees at UC-Berkeley and worked at the International House. He later contributed to a published history of the house. For decades, he worked at various locations of the Emporium-Capwell department store chain, including managing the one in El Cerrito Plaza.

    After he retired, Paul pursued his passion for local history and was a reliable source of rare historical facts and materials, recalled Daniella Thompson, editor of the BAHA website. In her tribute to him, she wrote that Paul documented much of the history of the Berkeley Woods tract, where he lived with his wife of 62 years, Mary Post Grunland, and raised his two daughters and a son.

    A lifelong outdoorsman, Paul loved to ski, hike, and backpack. In 2010, his late 80s, Daniella said, he attended two Jepson Herbarium botanical workshops that involved roughing it, one at Pinnacles National Monument and the other at Steens Mountain in Oregon.

    “He was very sociable and outgoing,” Daniella said. “Wherever people gathered, there he would be.  He was seen at practically every lecture in town, including one in the Tilden Botanic Garden on January 27.”