Paul Whitman was born on April 23, 1897, in Denver, Colorado. His family moved from Denver to St. Louis, Missouri, where he was reared. After preparatory school in the East, he enrolled at Yale University, though his academic plans were interrupted by the outbreak of World War I. He was assigned to the U.S. Army, where he served in the European theatre as a lieutenant.
Taking up his civilian life again in 1921, and continuing his studies at Washington University, in St. Louis, Missouri, he eventually married and established a successful career in the insurance industry. However, in the late 1920s, in fulfillment of his desire to pursue his interests in art, he moved with his wife, Anita Moll, and the first two of his three children—Colden and Ann—to the budding art community in Carmel, California, where he quickly gained notoriety for his oils, watercolors, lithographs, landscapes, and waterfront depictions. His third child, a son Paul, was born in Carmel. The family built a home on the fifteenth fairway of the famous golf course at Pebble Beach, with its inspiring landscapes and seascapes, which also served as a studio for Whitman.
At the height of his career, in 1950, Paul Whitman died of a heart attack at the age of 53. He was lauded at his death not only for his gifts as an artist of rare talents, but also for his immense contributions to the renowned community of artists in Carmel. Excerpts from his obituary in the Monterey Peninsula Herald attest to these contributions and to his faithful commitment to his family:
“[With] the sudden death of Paul Whitman on early Monday morning, Carmel suffered the loss of a true friend and a great leader. His work...has won wide recognition throughout the country. ...He was a member of the Carmel Art Association and served at one time as vice-president of that organization. He also served as [area] chief of civilian defense [during World War II]...[and]...head of the Peninsula Red Cross Blood Bank program.
“He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Anita Whitman; two sons, Paul, with the Navy at Hunter’s Point, and Colden Whitman of Carmel; a daughter, Mrs. George B. Chapman of Aurora, Ohio; a brother, Colden Whitman of Madera; two sisters, Mrs. William Field and Mrs. Stewart McCormick, both of St. Louis, Missouri; three grandchildren, Christopher, George and Geoffrey Chapman of Aurora [after his death, four other grandchildren, Matthew, Walter, Ann, and Scott, were born], a niece and three nephews.”
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Excerpts from a Letter of Tribute from the Carmel