Kenneth I. Paul has been the wood sculptor of Half Moon Bay for over 30 years. Every day, at the entrance to Main Street, locals, tourists and Nature enthusiasts would see him hand-chiseling giant, magnificent monoliths of trees into primeval-shaped masterpieces with natural symbols. His prolific, massive wood sculptures were the result of a life time dedicated to education, athletics and the arts.
Ken was born in San Francisco on Dec. 26, 1932. He grew up in a Marin County orphanage and was later reunited with his family as an adolescent. Ken graduated valedictorian of Calistoga High School and served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War. He attended Westmont College in Santa Barbara, Simpson Bible Seminary, received a B.A. from Oakland College of Arts and Crafts, and a master’s in education from the University of Hawaii. He taught in Maui and was also a background actor in “Hawaii Five-O” during the early 1970s. Ken was well trained in martial arts and was an avid marathon runner. He taught track and field for numerous Peninsula high schools and colleges.
During the 1960s and 1970s Ken was known for his pen-and-ink illustrations of San Francisco Victorians. He dedicated the 1980s to rendering drawings of Peninsula landmarks for the San Mateo County History Museum and a documentary book.
His last 30 years on the Coastside were dedicated to wood sculpting, writing and hand drumming. Coastside communities and international visitors remember him as the wood sculptor with a strong handshake, big smile and open heart. Always willing to listen to an individual’s story, Ken had a magical presence that somehow helped people recognize their true path on Earth.
Ken was curious about nature and humanity. Completely non-materialistic, he cherished every day in Nature by sculpting and chiseling giant wood art pieces, running marathons, playing hand drums, and conversing with friends and the public. Of the thousands of people he met while creating wood sculptures, reading his poetry books, traveling the world or playing hand drums, he always considered each person an individual — unique and special to this planet. More often than not, Ken helped people discover what their special qualities were. He would guide people to be their best selves.
Some called him a sage, some called him a guide, the Coastside locals remember him as the wood sculptor.
I knew him as Dad. And he was someone who cared more about others than himself. Unmaterialistic, unequivocally entranced with Nature, he would ask people to: “Look inside to who you really are. Acknowledge your gifts, your unique traits that make you special. Listen to Nature. The beating of your own heart is a gift. Breathe in, breathe out, and be grateful for each day. Find at least one aspect of your life to be thankful for every day and write it down.”
He left this busy planet on July 2, 2021, after weeks of loving care by the Palo Alto VA staff. He is buried at Alta Mesa Cemetery in Palo Alto.
I love you, Dad.