Paul Wakefield Purdom passed away surrounded by family and friends in Sonoma on Dec. 14, 2013. He was 85. With his passing, Northern California is short one interesting character.
Paul was born in Williams, Ariz., on Nov. 9, 1928, to Paul Wakefield Wallace and Mary Louise Doran. Shortly thereafter, Paul was adopted by William Walton Purdom after the death of his biological father.
He was raised on the San Francisco Peninsula and graduated from Burlingame High School in 1946.
Paul graduated from UC Berkeley in 1950, where he was a member of the Chi Phi Fraternity. Cal was a source of lifelong joy, pride and frustration. He could never understand why the Bears were unable to repeat the three consecutive Rose Bowl appearances he enjoyed as an undergraduate. Despite this, Paul was a generous supporter of academic and athletic programs at Cal, as well as many other charitable organizations.
Following college, Paul traveled extensively in Europe.
Back in San Francisco, he met Elizabeth (Betsy) Jane Chapman. Shortly after announcing their engagement, the U.S. Army called and Paul and Betsy spent their first few years of married life in Munich, Germany, courtesy of Uncle Sam.
After returning from Germany, Paul began his career in advertising and public relations. He formed Rubin and Purdom Company in the early 1960s, which evolved into Paul Purdom & Company and finally, Purdom Public Relations.
The Purdom agency was one of the first to practice high technology public relations for the rapidly evolving Silicon Valley. The Purdom family sold the agency to the French conglomerate Publicis Groupe in 1999.
Paul and Betsy lived for decades in San Anselmo where they raised their sons, Ned and Charlie. Paul then lived for some 25 years in Sonoma.
Paul loved to garden, hike, and take long, lonely drives through the Nevada desert. He read extensively and loved art and film. He walked out of more movies than most ever see. In Sonoma, he enjoyed lunching with new and old friends.
Paul is survived by his sons, Ned (Ellin) and Charlie; and grandchildren Ted, Charlie, Lucy and Andy. He was predeceased by his former wife, Betsy; and his younger sister, Wendy.
A celebration of Paul’s life is planned in the New Year at his favorite haunt, the Swiss Hotel in Sonoma.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Marin Agricultural Land Trust, Post Office Box 809, Point Reyes Station, CA 94956; or Sonoma Land Trust, 966 Sonoma Ave., Santa Rosa, CA 95404.