Bernard Wallace Paulson

Date of Birth

February 24, 1925

Date of Death

February 17, 2019

Bernard Wallace Paulson—known as Bernie by his nearest and dearest—passed away peacefully on February 17, 2019 at the age of 93, a week shy of his 94th birthday.

Bernie was born on February 24, 1925 to Martin L. Paulson and Flora Ella Paulson and was raised in Santa Barbara, CA with his three siblings Molly, Vic, and Priscilla. After attending SB High School, he served in the Navy from 1943–46 and was honorably discharged as an Aviation Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Petty Officer. In 1946, Bernie was offered a scholarship to play football at UC Santa Barbara where he graduated and proudly lettered as a Gaucho (olé!) for four years.

Bernie was drafted to play for the Indianapolis Colts upon graduation, however “decided to marry Mom instead”… an anecdote he loved to tell. He married Evelyn “Jean” La Velle, whom he met at UCSB, on July 3, 1949. Bernie and Jean settled in Fillmore, CA in 1951, where they began raising their four children, and in 1967 returned to Santa Barbara where they lived for the rest of their lives. Bernie worked as an Instrument Mechanic for the Southern California Gas Company and ended his 36-year career in management to begin his retirement with Jean. They spent a wonderful 55 years together until her passing in 2005.

Bernie had many passions in life. He valued taking family vacations, including a 1976 excursion to Washington D.C. to celebrate the bicentennial. He and Jean enjoyed trips to Hawaii, Mexico, England, and especially loved traveling around the United States in their motorhome. Bernie was an animal lover, a quality which he instilled in his children. He had many hobbies which included fishing with his sons; watching boxing matches; gardening (he was known to grow giant pumpkins and win competitions); attending local football and baseball games; and later in life, solving puzzles and playing the slots at the Chumash Casino.

Bernie was a true family man, and will be remembered for his generosity, sense of humor, kindness, and devotion to his wife, children, and grandchildren. He was also known for his quiet strengththough a man of few words, those that he did speak were heartfelt and respected. He will be deeply missed and forever celebrated as living life to the fullest.

Bernie is survived by his four children; John Paulson and wife Svetlana of Oceano, Jill Smethers and husband Marshal of Paso Robles, Ann Rapley and husband Mike of Atascadero, and Bill Paulson and wife Jennifer of Santa Barbara; grandchildren Matthew Luman, Tyler and Chandra Rapley, Brianna Ashley, and Taylor Paulson; sister Priscilla Reid and brother-in-law Charles, nephews and nieces, and countless friends. Bernie was preceded in death by his wife Jean, parents, sister Molly Thrower, brother Vic Paulson, and grandson Wesley Luman.

In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the Ridley-Tree Cancer Center of Santa Barbara. A private celebration with family and close friends will honor Bernie’s life.


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