In Memoriam: Paul Storm

Devoted volunteer was good friends with members of original village community

Earlier this year, Friends of China Camp lost a dear friend of the park. Paul Storm, who passed away in February, established a long and meaningful connection with the original China Camp Village community, and was a devoted FOCC volunteer. As a museum docent since 2012, Paul shared his love of the park’s history with thousands of visitors.

Paul Storm and wife Jan Bennett at China Camp Village.

As a younger man in Marin, Paul spent most of his weekends at China Camp. Over time, he developed deep friendships with the locals. Paul was good friends with Frank Quan and Georgette Quan Dahlka, members of China Camp’s last resident shrimping family. Paul and his wife Janice often had dinner with Georgette and Frank at the nearby Chalet Basque restaurant and would share holidays together. As Georgette puts it, “they became a part of our family.” 

Dedicated docent and conservationist

Friends remember Paul as a quiet and reserved man in his personal life. But when he put on his volunteer vest, Paul became an outgoing and dedicated museum docent. He enthusiastically invited the public into the museum on weekends and loved working with youth groups such as the Boy Scouts. 

Paul had a special interest in and concern for preservation of land and water. He often carried a dog-eared copy of the water-rights classic, Cadillac Desert, and his museum tours would center on the deep relationship between the shrimping economy and the bay’s changing ecology. He frequently highlighted the lasting impact of major infrastructure changes like the California Water Project, which diverted millions of gallons of freshwater that would have naturally flowed into the bay. 

Early life and love

Paul was born and raised in Hawaii, close to a naval base where his father was stationed. He lived in Minnesota for a period of time and then moved to California in the early 1980s. Paul was a very skilled union finish carpenter, specializing in high-end cabinetry. Paul’s work ranged from building displays in Union Square stores in San Francisco, to remodeling luxury apartments and crafting custom armoires for big names like actress Gina Lollobrigida.

Left to right: Paul Storm, Frank Quan, and Jan Bennett at a holiday dinner event.

Paul’s connection with the China Camp community actually led to his marriage to Janice “Jan” Bennett. In the 1980s, on a visit to the village, Paul and Jan were introduced by mutual friends. Soon they began dating, and eventually were spending all of their time together. Paul and Jan married on the beach at China Camp and started their lives together with their two beloved cats. Jan was also an important member of the village community, and was best friends with Georgette Quan Dahlka. Jan and Georgette each worked in local libraries and shared a passion for reading, often trading volumes from each other’s vast collection of books.  

Jan preceded Paul in death, passing away in August 2021. Both will be remembered fondly—and greatly missed—especially by friends Georgette Quan Dahlka, Milton Quan, Andy Fletcher, Ernie Stanton, George Thomas, Carol Hills, Tommy Dwyer, and Jeff Craemer. 

For many locals, China Camp provides a special and unique community hub that has had a significant and meaningful impact on the lives of so many. Paul treasured the park and the people within it. As village community member George Thomas said, “that’s what’s special about China Camp; it’s family.” Paul was a part of our China Camp family, and he will be missed greatly.—reported by FOCC Program Director Sheila Coll