Ed Power, Nut Tree owner, aviation legend
Flying legend Ed Power ready to head out.
On a spring day filled with the kind of clouds he loved to play tag with as he piloted his own plane time and again over 60 years, Edwin I. Power Jr., the man who built the Nut Tree Airport and was the visionary for much of that world-famous institution, became one with them. Ed died on March 18, 2017, at his home in Kenwood. He was 94.
Ed was the eldest of the famed Nut Tree complex’s second-generation partners, with his brother Robert and sister Mary Helen. They built on the genius of parents Edwin I. Power, Sr., and Helen Harbison Power, who began in 1921 by selling fresh fruit from a stand under a black-walnut tree on the Harbison Ranch, next to what was then Highway 40. Born on the ranch, Ed Jr. attended Vacaville High School and later joined the U.S. Army Air Corps, where for three years in World War II he was a mechanic on B-17 bombers. He came home, learned to fly on the G.I. Bill, and became a national legend in aviation.
In 1955, Ed pressed for building the Nut Tree Airport to attract the flying public to the family complex. It also attracted great pioneers in aviation, while the restaurant attracted movie stars and politicians. The airport was a model in the industry, featured in global magazines, including the Saturday Evening Post.
Ed’s best friend Richard Rico, former owner and publisher of the Vacaville Reporter, wrote in that paper on March 26, “I don’t know if clocks stopped, or if great lights went out, but the words [that he was gone] took my breath away. Iron Man was gone. My Wing Man was gone.” He goes on to recount his and Ed’s many adventures, which typified this man who never stopped moving, farming, or flying. Rico, also a pilot, described their “Can you top this” rivalry:
“I arranged for a news trip on an all-reserve Travis C-141 out to Pago-Pago, and I got Ed a seat. He setup a VIP trip to Cape Canaveral to see Apollo 15 leave for the moon. I landed a families’ ride for two on the U.S.S. Pintado, a new nuclear sub built at Mare Island. Dining with the captain at 150 feet below the Golden Gate is unforgettable. Ed got me on the worker bus in 1983 when Nut Tree catered lunch for Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip in the State Capitol Rotunda. Planning was epic. Ditto when Nut Tree catered a benefit banquet at Hearst Castle. I was the official photog. Movie and political stars poured out of black limos. I couldn’t top this.” But of course, they both did, over and over.
In 1996 Ed and his wife Linda Liscom, a fellow pilot and travel adventure writer, moved from Vacaville to Kenwood, into an aerie of a house overlooking the valley. For years Ed kept a plane at the air strip on Graywood Ranch, flying back and forth to Vacaville, or up the coast for lunch, or down to Mexico for vacation, or over to the eastern Sierras for some high altitude camping, or off to the Black Rock Desert in Nevada to attend Burning Man, where he dressed as the Pope and gave blessings to one and all. He voluntarily relinquished his pilot’s license at the age of 90.
Ed was the living ideal of “use it or lose it.” Up until his stroke last month, he could be found chopping wood, building benches, tending his fruit trees, even soaking in hot springs in Japan. He was eternally youthful, kind, and a true gentleman. We should all be like Ed.
Ed is survived by his wife of 40 years, Linda Liscom, and his children, Sandra, Stephen, David and Alan. He was preceded in death by his son Henry, who died in a plane crash in 1984. Services were held on March 31 at St. Mary’s Church in Vacaville. In lieu of flowers, family requests donations be sent to the Henry Power Memorial Scholarship Fund, Solano Community College, Dorothy.Hawkes@solano.edu.