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Paul R. Deats

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Paul R. Deats

Place of birth: Deatsville, Kentucky

Religious affiliation: None/Unknown

Paul R. Deats passed away at age 96 on February 15th, 2016. He leaves behind his wife of 19 years, Della Casberg Deats, and his children John R. Deats, Paulaine Deats Dummit (husband Dennis) and Edwin C. Deats (wife Christine) In addition he will be missed by his grandchildren, Lauren Dummit, Dillon Dummit (wife Kiersten), Logan, Justin and Collin Deats and his two great grandchildren Cade Dummit (age2) and Holland Dummit who was born just a week before his death.

Paul Deats was born in Deatsville, Kentucky to Benjamin Franklin Deats and Lillie Mae Culver. He was the 4th born of 5 children, four boys and one girl. Paul and his siblings became orphaned when his mother died suddenly when Paul was just 8 and his father died the following year. There were 4 children still living at home so this necessitated that the children become split up. His two elder brothers went to work, Paul went to live with his favorite grandmother on her farm and his little sister went to a convent.

Paul had always been an unruly and extremely independent little boy and was often the object of his father’s ire. He began wandering off when he was just 6 years old, always looking for adventure and something new to learn. He was a barefoot country boy who had a very industrious streak as he often found ways to earn extra money but he loved living on his Grandmother’s farm. She was a crusty, Irish, farm woman who loved and doted on him while keeping him constantly busy. She cherished Paul for the same traits that his father found so difficult. She was the first woman in Franklin County to buy a car so since she didn’t drive, Paul figured it out and became her chauffeur at age 13. He took her all over the county. She was so taken by the car, she decided to drive it herself and the first time out she crashed it into a ditch which resulted in her death a week later. Paul, again an orphan, was sent to the city of Louisville, Ky. to live with two aunts.

He was an unsophisticated country boy and didn’t like the city. He was always planning how he was going to move to Long Beach, California because he had seen a post card with a picture of Long Beach and the swaying palm trees. When he notified his legal guardian of his plans, the bank where his dad had left a small sum to raise the children denied his request as he was only 16. He finally got their approval with the caveat that he would finish high school there, and with a very small bequest he left Louisville to “find his fortune” in Long Beach.

He arrived in Long Beach in 1935 and asked around at the bus depot where the palm trees were. He was referred to Belmont Shore where he promptly began looking for room & board and a high school. He found a nice family to live with in Belmont Shore. They charged him $40 a month for room, board, and laundry. He enrolled at Wilson High School and quickly found work as a box boy at a grocery store on 2nd Street. He went to school all day and then worked all afternoon and evening at the grocery store. His boss at the market told him he worked harder than two men so Paul started telling his coworkers that someday he was going to own that market. Of course, they laughed at his wild ambition but in a very few years he had done just that.

When he was just 21 he married Priscilla Lorraine Deats who worked at the Christensen bakery on 2nd St. in Belmont Shore. They started life on their own when the war interrupted them and Paul enlisted in the U.S. Navy. Paul participated in the invasion of the Philippines and stayed there until 1945 as a navigator onboard his ship. Once back he launched into his new life as an entrepreneur. He bought the original market with money they had saved and then went on to own 3 more markets and a liquor store in Long Beach.

There was one thing that was of primary importance to Paul. He wanted to find a place to grow roots so that his children would never have to suffer feeling out of place and lonely as he had. So he launched into joining any group that would have him so he could make a respectable life for his wife and children. He eventually became President of Lion’s club in Long Beach as well as a being on the board of directors of Long Beach Chamber of Commerce and President of the Belmont Shore Business Association. He was a member of the Long Beach Mounted Police and rode in the Rose Parade for 40 years. He was a councilman for the 3rd district of Long Beach for two terms in the sixties. He was eventually sought out to invest in a start up savings and loan with some local business men. After much agonizing he mortgaged their house to do so and served on the board of directors for several years. This was a transforming move for Paul, as it soon went from Long Beach Savings and Loan to Great Western Savings in 1970. It was a complete success. It changed his life but he continued to work hard at investments, property ownership and charitable foundations.

Paul became very good friends with George Deukmejian in the 60’s. He thought so highly of George that he became very involved in his campaigns for election and they have remained friends from that time forward. When George became Governor of California he appointed Paul to the California Horse Race Commission for two terms because Paul had always maintained his interest in horses back to his life in Kentucky. He always managed to own and ride a palomino horse. After he retired he furthered that interest by raising quarter horse race horses which ran at Los Alamitos Race Track.

From country bumpkin to successful entrepreneur, Paul succeeded in everything he tried, both in business and his quest to set down roots. After working so hard for so many years, Paul & Lorraine moved to Idaho in the mid-seventies to try their hand at working a farm again. He bought a large farm and worked physically harder than he ever had. They also adopted a nine year old boy, “Eddie” Simmons who needed a home, and they worked side by side on the farm. By adopting Ed he felt he was giving back to another orphan, like himself, who needed a hand up. He was always so grateful for the help he got along the way.

In 1978, when daughter Paulaine was expecting her first baby, he, Lorraine and Ed moved back to California to a nice 20 acre ranch in the Santa Ynez Valley where he has happily resided ever since. He was just as involved in the community there as he had been in Long Beach. Lorraine Deats died in 1985 and Paul continued raising horses. Twelve years later he married Della Casberg who was the widow of his doctor, Dr. Melvin Casberg. They were married for almost 19 years until his death last Monday. She cared for him at her home the last year and a half of his life with great love and devotion.

Paul was a remarkable man, hardworking, proud and totally fearless. He was not always an easy man and wanted his kids to learn to be tough. He jumped into own life up to his ears, never forgetting his humble past. He was just as likely to be friends with the produce salesman as he was with a President of the United States. He and Ronald Reagan were friends and fellow members of Rancheros Vistadores in the Santa Ynez Valley. He believed firmly in the American dream and felt that democracy was to be cherished. He always extolled the fact that you could start from nothing and become a successful person if you were willing to work hard enough as he had proven in his own life. He was proud of his military service in the U.S. Navy.

His service will be graveside at the Oak Hill Cemetery, 2560 Baseline Ave. Ballard, Ca. 93463 on Saturday, February 27th at 11:00 AM with a BBQ immediately following at his ranch. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Vikings in Solvang @ www.vikingchairitesinc.com or the Rancheros Visitadores charitable group Los Adobes at P.O. box 1859, Santa Ynez, Ca. 93460

1 Response

  • Peggy Ball On

    Great memories of a true southern gentleman. Meeting Paul following his marriage to my sister Muffy, I immediately felt a love for his wit and southern style. He was always generous and welcoming to our family. I am grateful to have known him. Rest in Peace, Paul. Love, Peggy, Ken and Kelsey

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