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The Paul Ecke Collection

The Paul Ecke Ranch, Inc. Business Records and Family Papers consist primarily of the business and administrative records of The Paul Ecke Ranch, Inc., from its origin in the early 1900s to its eventual sale to the Dutch-based Agribio Group in 2012.

Over Three Generations of Prominent Ecke Family Members


Albert Ecke
Albert Ecke


Photo of Henrietta Ecke
Henrietta Ecke


Eagle Rock Home
Eagle Rock Home









The History of the Paul Ecke Ranch Inc.


The history of the Paul Ecke Ranch, Inc. begins with the arrival of the Ecke family in the United States in 1902. Albert Ecke arrived in 1902 from Germany with his wife, Henrietta, and their four children, Hans, Margaret, Paul (1895-1991), and Frieda. Prior to the move, the Eckes owned and operated their own vegetarian sanitarium, an investment made possible largely due to Henrietta's inheritance. Albert, a former school teacher, looked after the daily operations and Henrietta prepared the vegetarian meals. It was a successful enterprise and the family decided to move to Fiji to establish a similar business. En route, they decided the climate of California was better suited for such a business. 

They arrived in Ellis Island and made their way to Eagle Rock, Hollywood, where they cultivated vegetables, apricots, and flowers (iris and some poinsettias). In 1906, the family moved to Hayward Avenue in Hollywood. Later that year, Margaret died unexpectedly in a shooting accident and the family briefly returned to Europe (Zurich, Switzerland). However, by October, they were back in the United States. Albert leased a block of 10 acres for $150 a year and grew melons and tomatoes, with chrysanthemums and poinsettias in the north portion. Around this time, Albert also began to invest in real estate. He sold one of his lots on Hayworth Ave. for a profit and bought another one at 7204 Sunset Blvd. where he built a four-family 17-room flat in 1912.

In 1915, Albert bought five acres in El Monte to cultivate poinsettias exclusively. He took out a loan from the bank for the crop, which was a failure. The Eckes used money from their dairy to finance another poinsettia crop. In 1916, the crop froze and the family lost the El Monte land, in addition to owing the bank $500. Revenue from the dairy helped abate the loss. In 1917, they finally got a break and Albert was able to sell his finest blooms at Christmastime. By 1918, the Eckes established a successful business selling cut flowers and began shipping to New York, Chicago, and St. Louis.


Photo of Albert Ecke’s Teacher Training Certificate


Albert Ecke’s Teacher Training Certificate



Photo of Paul Ecke Sr. with Wife Magdalena

Paul Ecke Sr. with his Wife Magdalena

Paul Ecke Sr. Took Over the Business in 1919

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.  

                                                                          Ecke Family Fishing Trip

                                                                                                                                Ecke Family Fishing Trip



Paul Ecke Jr. with his Mother and Father

                PaulEcke Jr.’s Diploma


Paul Ecke Jr. and Elisabeth “Jinx” Ecke









Paul Ecke Jr.

Paul Ecke Jr. (1925-2002) assumed leadership of the business in 1963. He had a degree in floriculture from Ohio State University and formally shifted the focus of the Ecke Ranch from the field stock plant business to the potted plant business with a greater emphasis on production in greenhouses. Paul Jr. was also instrumental in establishing the poinsettia as the Christmas flower. Every holiday season he would send poinsettias to the White House, in addition to local television stations and national talk shows such as Bob Hope’s Christmas Special, Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show, the Dinah Shore Show, and Good Morning America. He also placed advertisements in leading magazines. 

Paul Ecke Jr. married Elisabeth "Jinx" Joan Kenney in 1953. They first met on a blind date in 1952. Elisabeth is a graduate of San Diego State College with a specialization in speech therapy. Together they had three children - Paul Ecke III (1955-), Lizbeth Ecke (1957-), and Sara Ecke May (1959-). Paul and Elisabeth were subsequently divorced (ca. 1980s-1990s). Paul Ecke Jr. married Maureen “Mo” De St. Croix on January 31, 1998. 

                                                                     Lt. Paul Ecke Jr., U.S. Navy

                                                                                         Lt. Paul Ecke Jr. U.S. Navy



Elisabeth "Jinx" Ecke

During Elisabeth “Jinx” Ecke’s San Diego State years, she joined the Alpha Phi sorority, among other organizations. A sorority sister was engaged to a lieutenant in the United States Navy and set "Jinx" up on a blind date with her fiancé’s friend from the ship, who had specified he would like to meet someone while on leave in San Diego.  That friend was Lt. Paul Ecke, Jr. of Encinitas.         

After their first blind date, Jinx and Paul kept in touch throughout her remaining time in college and his time on tour with the Navy. Eventually, they were married on Oct. 4, 1953, at the La Jolla Presbyterian Church. They were married for 40 years before they divorced. Elisabeth "Jinx" Ecke joined the Paul Ecke Poinsettia Ranch family in Encinitas and made her mark alongside her husband and in-laws in growing the Ranch into a worldwide business and the largest of its kind for poinsettia plants.

She was passionate about equal rights for women and joined community groups that focused on important issues. Elisabeth “Jinx” Ecke moved into the Ranch house where she raised their three children, Paul III, Lizbeth, and Sara, amongst the large agricultural enterprise.       


Seated: Paul Ecke, Sr. and Magdalena Ecke; Standing: Elisabeth "Jinx" Ecke, Paul Ecke III and Paul Ecke, Jr.. Kneeling: Sara Ecke and Lizbeth Ecke
Ecke Family Photo
Ecke Family Photo


                  Elisabeth “Jinx” Ecke


  Paul Ecke III

                                                                     Paul Ecke III and his 4-H Steer

Paul Ecke III (1955-) joined the family business in 1987. He has a bachelor’s degree in horticulture from Colorado State University and an MBA from Duke's Fuqua School of Business. Paul Ecke III became CEO in 1991 and responded to competition by founding an offshore poinsettia cutting operation, Paul Ecke de Guatemala, with 1.2 million square feet of greenhouses and packing facilities. The original ranch in Encinitas was mostly used for research breeding. 

In 1987 the Carltas Development Company was formed to consolidate future development activities. Carltas sold 180-acres of Ecke-owned property to Legoland, in addition to the Carlsbad Company Stores outlet shopping center. It developed a 450-acre office park and hotel project on the hillsides above Carlsbad's Flower Fields. In addition, it created the Encinitas Ranch project, which includes a regional mall, municipal golf course, and a 1,100-home subdivision.

Paul Ecke III also developed Flower Fields Alliance, an association of spring-plant businesses, including the Yoder Brothers Inc. of Barberton, Ohio, Fischer USA and Goldsmith Seeds. In 2006, the business acquired the geranium nursery, Oglevee Ltd. of Connellsville, Pennsylvania, which commanded around 25% of the U.S. geranium market at the time.

In August 2012, the poinsettia operations of the Ecke Ranch were sold to the Dutch-based Agribio Group, marking the end of the Ecke family’s involvement in the business. In December 2012, 67 acres of the remaining Ecke Ranch property were sold to The Leichtag Foundation based in Carlsbad.

Paul Ecke III is married to Julianne Hampton. Together they have two children - Hans Maxwell Ecke (1993-) and Polly Elisabeth Mei Ecke (2001-). 


Paul Ecke III, Paul Ecke Jr., and Max Ecke.                                  Paul Ecke III with Amelita Ramos

Ecke Family Photos Continued

Maureen Ecke with Corinne May

Ecke-Kennedy Famiily

From left to right: Maureen Ecke, Andrew and Sara Ecke May, Mark Kenney and his father, Dr. William Kenney, Paul Ecke III, Carole Livingston and her husband, Ben Thorson, and Bud Raffee, married to Lois Kenney.

Lizbeth Ecke with the Olympic torch, downtown Encinitas

Lizbeth Ecke with the Olympic torch in downtown Encinitas.

Paul Ecke Jr. and Lizbeth Ecke ran with the Olympic torch before the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

Paul Ecke Jr. and Lizbeth Ecke ran with the Olympic torch before the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

Paul Ecke Jr., Lizbeth Ecke with the Olympic torch in downtown Encinitas.

Paul Ecke Jr. and Paul Ecke Sr. in downtown Encinitas, California.

Paul Ecke Sr., Magdalena Ecke, and their friends.

The picture was taken at Paul Ecke Sr. and Magdalena Ecke's house.

In the front row, left to right: Paul Ecke Sr. in the red shirt, Magdalena Ecke, unknown, unknown, Mildred MacPherson (Magdalena's best friend), Connie Von Herzen (Paul Sr's childhood friend and attorney).

Back row: Kurt Muerdter (in beige pants), Clara Muerdter (Kurt's wife and Magdalena's sister), unknown, unknown, Ted Maurer's wife, Ted Maurer (Magdalena's brother), unknown, unknown.

The picture may have been taken at a New Year's Eve party at the Ecke house to celebrate Paul and Magdalena's anniversary.

The YMCA Exercise Group

Ed Harloff (center right) was a family friend and local car dealer in Encinitas, California. 

Ecke-Winter family

From left to right: Duane Winter (Paul and Magdalena Ecke's grandson and Barbara and Ray Winter's son), Paul Ecke Sr., Magdalena Ecke, Connie Winter, Ray Robert Winter (Paul and Magdalena's grandson and Barbara and Ray Winter's son), Barbara Ecke Winter (Paul and Magdalena's middle child), and Ray Winter (Barbara's husband).

Paul Ecke Sr. in Europe

It is presumed that Paul Ecke Sr. was pictured here on a hike in Switzerland. 

Paul Ecke III's residence, Santa Clara, CA

Paul Ecke III's backyard in Santa Clara, when he worked for Hewlett Packard. 

Paul Ecke Sr.’s 80th Birthday Party

Paul Ecke Jr. in the receiving line of Paul Ecke Sr.'s 80th birthday party in one of the barns on the Paul Ecke Ranch. 

Paul Ecke Sr.'s 80th birthday party

Maurer family with Paul Ecke Sr.

From left to right: Clara Maurer Muerdter, Ruth Maurer Vogel (in the white earings), Ben Maurer (in the back), Esther Maurer (brown plaid jacket), Paul Ecke Sr., Sue Harper, Billie Maurer (Ben Maurer's wife in white sweater, behind Sue). This picture was likely taken after Magdalena's passing. Clara, Ruth, Ben, and Esther were all siblings of Magdalena Ecke. 

Christine Dealy and husband

Christine Dealy (Paul and Magdalena Ecke's granddaughter) and her husband at the time in the backyard of the Ecke's house.

Paul Ecke Sr. and Magdalena Ecke's "new" house on the Ecke Ranch in Encinitas, California.

Paul and Magdalena Ecke's "new" house on the hill. Paul Jr. and Elisabeth Ecke eventually moved into their "old" Ranch house. 1957

Paul Ecke Sr.'s bedroom in the "new" house on the Ecke Ranch in Encinitas, California.

Paul and Magdalena Ecke moved into their "new" (second) house on the Ecke Ranch, Encinitas, CA in 1957. This is the same house he passed away in at age 96. 

Louise Fohl

An Ecke Family Friend in 1978.

Connie Van Hertzon

Connie Van Hertzon was Paul Ecke Sr.'s childhood friend and eventually became his attorney.

Eddy Jednak

Eddy Jednak was a personal friend. Paul Ecke Jr. and Elisabeth Ecke displayed photographs of friends in the dining room at the Ranch house in Encinitas, California.

Paul Ecke Jr. (back row, red shirt), Professor Alex Laurie (back row, red plaid shirt). Dude Engle, former classmate and friend of Paul Ecke Jr. from Ohio State University.

Paul Ecke Jr. Running

Kyoto Japan

Ecke Family Fishing Trip

From left to right: Unknown, Magdalena Ecke, Paul Ecke Sr., and Paul Ecke Jr

Magdalena Ecke

Henrietta Ecke

Henrietta Ecke was Paul Ecke Sr.'s mother.

School picture (Paul Ecke Sr.), Hollywood, California

Childhood picture, Paul Ecke Jr

Paul Ecke Jr. Is at the center front. 

Friends at Barbara Winter’s Home

From left to right: Paul Ecke Sr., Magdalena Ecke, Mildred Macphearson (Magdalena Ecke's best friend),  Gertrude Fohl, and her daughter Louise Fohl (long-time family friends).

Paul Ecke Sr. With Unknown Woman

Henrietta Ecke, a boy and a bear

Paul Ecke Sr. and Henrietta Ecke (mother).

Paul Ecke III with his 4-H pig, J. Peter

Paul Ecke III outside of Barn 2 with one of the first Duroc pigs in San Diego County, "J. Peter", named after the family friend and dentist, J. Peter Fitzpatrick.

Paul Ecke Sr. And Magdalena Ecke

Paul Ecke Sr., Magdalena Ecke, and an unidentified man in the yard of their new home on the mesa, one year after they moved in. 

The Bradley Family

Enchin, Donald and family

Horst Frische (sp)

Barbara Winter (Paul Jr.'s sister) and Ray Winter, with their sons, Ray (older) and Duane.

Robert and Louise (Roelli) Maurer, Magdalena Ecke's parents.

Kurt and Clara Muerdter (Magdalena's sister).

Henrietta Moehring (Ecke), seated on right, with her parents and step-sister.

Paul Ecke Sr., Magdalena Ecke and Mildred Macphearson (friend) in Hawaii

Presumably Ruth (Crix) Dealy, daughter of Paul Sr. and Magdalena Ecke, with husband. Not confirmed.

Paul Ecke Jr. in Mickey Mouse costume

Childhood picture of Paul Ecke Jr.. Paul Ecke Sr. in the background.

Maurer family home in late 1890's / early 1900's, Kreuzlingen, Switzerland. Magdalena Maurer married Paul Ecke Sr

Paul Ecke Jr. and his dog, Brit

Ecke 35mm Slide Collection

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