Paul Grunland, local volunteer and historian, dies at age 93

Daniella Thompson/Courtesy

Active Berkeley community member and historian Paul Grunland died Feb. 2 at the age of 93.

Devoting himself to civil service for much of his later life, Grunland was a longtime member of the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association, or BAHA, the Berkeley Historical Society and the El Cerrito Historical Society, and he was on the founding board of the Berkeley Path Wanderers Association. In this capacity, he assisted in creating the first map of the Berkeley pathways 20 years ago and continued to lead walking tours of those paths in Berkeley, Kensington and El Cerrito.

Grunland grew up in Portland, Oregon, and moved to Berkeley when he was in grade school, according to Jeanine Castello-Linvice president of the Berkeley Historical Society and longtime friend of Grunland.

“He could remember walking up behind the (California) Memorial Stadium when there were cows on those hills,” Castello-Lin said.

Grunland worked at UC Berkeley’s International House before World War II, and after the war, he contributed to a published history of the house, according to Castello-Lin.

Before he retired, Grunland managed Capwell’s, a department store in El Cerrito Plaza.

“(He was) very good with people, and he knew everyone,” said Daniella Thompson, editor of the BAHA website.

All of his later work at BAHA, the Berkeley Path Wanderers Association, the Berkeley Historical Society and the El Cerrito Historical Society was done on a volunteer basis.

Grunland expanded his interest in local history after his retirement and could always be counted on to share rare historical facts and materials, Thompson said. Grunland also frequented meetings and lectures within the city of Berkeley, at which he was always recognized.

“(Grunland was) one of those people that always had an insatiable curiosity and … had a love of civic engagement,” said Colleen Neff, president of the Berkeley Path Wanderers Association. “He would always come up to me and say he had an idea about how to improve things around the city for everyone who lived here.”

Neff also said Grunland was one of the only people she knew who did not have a cellphone, email address or answering machine. Berkeley Path Wanderers Association sent out a newsletter electronically, but the association would print it out and send it to Grunland in the mail.

Grunland was an avid skier, hiker and general outdoorsman. In his late 80s, Grunland attended a botanical workshop at Steens Mountain in Oregon, where he camped for days outdoors in a tent. Additionally, he documented much of the history of the Berkeley Woods tract, where he lived with his wife of 62 years, Mary Post Grunland. They have two daughters and one son.

“He was very sociable and outgoing,” Thompson said.Wherever people gathered, he would be.”

Contact Amanda Bradford at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @amandabrad_uc.

Because of misinformation from a source, a previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Paul Grunland died Jan. 31. In fact, he died Feb. 2.