Paul Ecke Sr. and Magdalena Ecke
Paul Ecke Sr. took over the family business in 1919 after the death of his father, Albert Ecke. That same year, a group of 30 European-American flower growers (including Paul Ecke Sr.) formed the American Florist Exchange market, known as the Los Angeles Flower Market as of 2018. It was inspired by the success of local Japanese-American growers who established the city’s first major flower market in 1912 (the Southern California Flower Market). The goal of the Exchange was to develop a more efficient and direct way to sell and distribute perishable flowers to local florists and nurseries.
On a personal note, a bumper crop of poinsettias in 1918 had resulted in a profit, which Paul Ecke Sr. used to purchase multiple lots of land. He sold the dairy he ran with his sister, Frieda, in 1922 and ultimately bought 40 acres of land in Encinitas at $150 an acre in 1923. Over the years, he continued to buy adjoining land in the irrigation district and made considerable investments in real estate.
Paul Ecke Sr. and Magdalena Maurer eloped on New Year's Eve in 1924. Magdalena's family had immigrated to the U.S. from Switzerland when she was two and she had known Paul since she was 12 years old. The lot of land that Paul had bought in Encinitas included an old house and barn in disrepair. Paul and Magdalena commuted from Hollywood every weekend until they had transformed the house into their home. Their first child, Paul Ecke Jr., was born in 1925. Barbara Ecke (Winter) was born in 1927 and Ruth "Crix" Ecke (Dealy) in 1929. Paul Ecke Sr. looked after daily operations and was away frequently on business and sales trips. Magdalena raised the children, did the bookkeeping, and looked after boarding for the hired workers.
Together they established a 945-acre farm in Encinitas, California, along with a 450-acre farm in Carlsbad, California. Paul Ecke Sr. was inducted into the Floriculture Hall of Fame in 1970. Magdalena died in 1981. Paul Ecke Sr. died in 1991 at age 96.