Harvey West Jr. - Graeagle's Visionary
Written by Leah West
October 18, 1922 - April 26, 2011
Harvey West, Jr. was born on October 18, 1922 in Soquel, California. 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 in the Santa Cruz coast, fishing, playing baseball and enjoying some fun at the Boardwalk and “Plunge” whenever possible.
The family later moved to Placerville, CA 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. The 2nd World War was in full swing and Harvey joined the Navy V-12 program. He enrolled in Sacramento Jr. 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 and 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 is father, Harvey West, Sr. and brother Bob. Cruising timber, driving logging truck, managing the mills, and negotiating timber/lumber sales made for long days. It was in August 1950 that Harvey married his sweetheart, Shirley Devine.
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 (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 this 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 enjoyed the game of golf - so out of his love for the game - the perfect location was realized and the construction of Graeagle Meadows began in 1968 (9 holes) and the completed 18 hole championship course was finished in 1970. It was the first 18 hole course in the entire area and today is still one of the most player-friendly and scenic anywhere around!
Harvey was 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 they moved to Plumas County, he enjoyed serving on the Plumas County Planning Commission for 19 years; Coached little league baseball, 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; was a Mason and attended the Lodge in Beckwourth occasionally; was a World War II veteran, a father of 4 children and 8 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild.
Today the privately owned family company, GL&W is much the same, as it was 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 was a the true pioneer of the community of Graeagle, and said none of it would have been be possible without the love and support of his wife, Shirley and their children.