Paul T. Isley III

Member #1088

April 17th, 1948 – March 18th, 2024

On Monday, March 18th, 2024, Paul T. Isley III, Member #1088, passed away peacefully surrounded by his loved ones. He was a cherished friend, father, husband, author, adventurer, book collector, and one of the most influential figures in world of Bromeliad cultivation.

Paul T. Isley III, also known to his friends as Ty, was born April 17, 1948, in Santa Monica to Paul T. Isley Jr and Ruth Ratigan Isley. He was baptized and attended St. Mark’s Catholic Church in Venice. He grew up in the Cheviot Hills of Los Angeles, graduating from Loyola High School in 1966. He attended UCLA, graduating in 1970 with a degree in Economics. While at UCLA, Paul was the student manager of the Bruin football team and belonged to the Theta Xi fraternity.

After graduation, Paul worked as a journeyman painter for his father’s company and in 1971 he took off on a treasure hunting expedition to the Caribbean and discovered several wreck sites. In 1974, he followed his passion and started his own company, Genus: Tillandsia, the first company dedicated to the wholesale distribution of Tillandsia Air Plants throughout North America. In 1976, Paul, along with Bill Harris and Jerry Robinson formed Rainforest Flora in Venice, CA. Paul traveled throughout Central and South America to locate, study, identify, and collect rare and exotic Tillandsias. Rainforest Flora became world-renowned for the Tillandsia hybrids it developed and distributed all over the world.

Paul was an intrepid adventurer even before collecting plants in South America. He traveled to all seven continents and the Arctic Circle. He summited Mt. Whitney at 11 years old and went on to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2000, Mt. Elbrus in 2004, and trekked to Everest Base Camp in 2008. He was an avid scuba diver who had a fondness for deep-sea exploration. In 2008 he explored Lake Baikal in Russia on the deep-sea submersible, Mir I, the submersible that had previously made dives to the Titanic. He was proud to be a member of the Explorer’s Club and served as 1st Vice President for the Adventurer’s Club of Los Angeles.

Paul wrote and published two books, Tillandsia and Tillandsia II. He also translated The Deep by Anatoly M. Sagalevich, a seminal volume on deep sea exploration.

Over the past several decades, Paul rediscovered his Catholic Faith and was a staunch traditional Catholic. He enlightened many people on the value of the Traditional Latin Mass. He translated and published, The Reality of The Body and Blood Of Christ in The Eucharist by Bishop Saint John Fisher.

Paul lived in Manhattan Beach for over 46 years. He is survived by his wife of 38 years, Betty, son Paul T Isley IV (PJ), daughters Kimberly Simich, Kacey Tandy, grandson John Jett Simich, brothers Chris Isley, Tom Isley, and sister Mary McCulloch.

Paul loved his books, early morning runs, an evening scotch, fine wine, hosting grand parties, Tillandsias, the people he worked with, close friends, talking to strangers, and most of all his family.

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