After years of asking, Don Clark of the Mohawk Valley Independence Day committee was very pleased to announce that Harvey West, Graeagle founder, will be this year’s parade grand marshal.
West will lead the parade with his grandson, Trey West, on Sunday, July 4, at 1 p.m.
Following is a biographical sketch of West by Leah West.
Harvey West was born Oct. 18, 1922, in Soquel, Calif. He was the oldest of three boys (David and Robert, brothers) born to Harvey West, Sr. and Leila. Harvey had a typical boyhood life growing up on the Santa Cruz coast, fishing, playing baseball and enjoying some fun at the boardwalk and “Plunge” whenever possible.
The family later moved to Placerville, where they operated several lumber mills: Smith Flat, Fresh Pond, Sly Park and Tahoe Valley.
At this time, Harvey attended El Dorado High School in Placerville and graduated in 1940.
World War II was in full swing and Harvey joined the Navy V-12 program. He enrolled in Sacramento Junior College and then attended COP (Stockton). Harvey was one of four to be sent to the Naval Supply Corp school program at Harvard in Boston. In February 1945 he was assigned his first ship, the Auriga. He remained in the Navy for several years.
After the war it was a busy life of a timber man, working for the family business, Placerville Lumber Company, with his father, Harvey West, Sr., and brother Bob. Cruising timber, driving logging trucks, managing the mills and negotiating timber/lumber sales made for long days.
Harvey married his sweetheart, Shirley Devine, in August 1950.
In 1957, Harvey, along with his brother Bob, came to Graeagle to investigate the holdings and timber of the California Fruit Exchange. He recalls having dinner at the Log Cabin in Portola on a cool fall evening and feeling fairly impressed with the little town.
The West family purchased Graeagle from the California Fruit Exchange — and the real work began. He moved his family to Graeagle and along with his wife, Shirley, and their (then) two children, Deborah and Dan, settled into the large red house on the hill. It was 1958 and Graeagle was a virtual ghost town at the time, only a handful of people remained as residents.
Fifty years later, the community of Graeagle is the result of their vision, their commitment and much hard work.
Harvey always enjoyed the game of golf, so out of his love for the game, he made the perfect location. Construction of Graeagle Meadows began in 1968 (nine holes), and the 18-hole championship course was finished in 1970. It was the first 18-hole course in the entire area. Today, it is still one of the most player-friendly and scenic courses anywhere.
Harvey has always been a civic-minded man. In his younger days he played first base for the Bartletts and the Outlaws; was a deputy with the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Posse. After he moved to Plumas County, he enjoyed serving on the Plumas County Planning Commission for 19 years; coached Little League baseball; was a member of the Rotary Club; supported and donated to the Johnsville Ski Hill; was the founding member and first fire chief of the Graeagle Volunteer Fire Department; is a Mason and still attends Lodge in Beckwourth occasionally; is a World War II veteran; a father of four children, eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Today, the privately owned family company, Graeagle Land and Water, is much the same, under his watchful guidance — with the vision and day-to-day operations turned over to his son Dan (and his grandson Harvey West III, as well!).
Harvey West is the true pioneer of the community of Graeagle, and says none of this would have been possible without the love and support of his wife, Shirley, and their children.
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