Burnet Finley ‘Tigger’ Wohlford
August 29, 1928 – January 31, 2021
Rancho Santa Fe
Jovial, witty, and big-hearted, Burnet Finley (Tigger) Wohlford charmed everyone he met. Nicknamed as a young child after his favorite character in Winnie The Pooh, the name stayed with him and reflected his enthusiasm for life. Tig passed away on January 31 due to Covid. He was 92.Tig was born and raised in Escondido, the third generation of a farming family. His grandfather, Alvin Wohlford, began farming in Escondido in 1891. Tig was the son of Burnet C. and Mildred F. Wohlford of Escondido. He grew up in the home his parents built on East Valley Parkway, the center of operations for the Wohlford ranches for more than 80 years.Tig attended Orange Glen Elementary in Escondido and the Webb School in Claremont, CA, before graduating from Escondido High School in 1946. He was a member of the first four-year graduating class at Claremont Men’s College (now Claremont McKenna) in 1950. During his college summers he worked as a surveyor for the Escondido Mutual Water Company, surveying the company’s new water line locations. He also worked for Escondido Cement Products, making concrete irrigation pipe used in all the groves in the area. He also worked on the family ranches, even traveling back and forth from Claremont to Escondido during the winter months to assist with smudging during freezes. While attending college, the Korean War broke out and Tig joined the National Guard 40th Division in order to finish college.After graduation, the National Guard 40th Division was called up and he spent time in northern Japan and Korea. After his enlistment, he returned home to Escondido and began assisting his father in the operation of the family farming business. In 1953, Tig married Betty Mathews. They enjoyed life together in Escondido, raising their three children and involving themselves in the community. Tig managed the family groves and developed new citrus and avocado properties in the Escondido area over the years. Betty predeceased Tig in 1994.During his career, Tig was active with many agricultural associations and other organizations. He served as president of the Escondido Lemon Association, the Lemon Administrative Committee in Los Angeles, and served on the Escondido Soil Conservation Board. He was elected to the Escondido Union High School Board and served from 1971-1975. Tig served as the San Diego County representative to the Associated Soil Conservation Service and served on the San Diego County Flood Control District Board. He was a member of the US Disaster Relief Committee and also served on the City of Escondido’s General Plan Update Committee in the 1990s. Tig was a founder of North County Bank and served on the bank’s board until it merged with Wells Fargo in 2000. He was a longtime member of Escondido Rotary and served on advisory boards at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.A passionate wine connoisseur, for many years Tig was a member of California Grapevine, a wine tasting group that met weekly to taste and evaluate different vintages. He was a longtime member of the Wine and Food Society of La Jolla. He was also a member of the Wine and Food Society chapters of La Mesa and Rancho Santa Fe. In addition, he served for several years on the Board of Governors of the International Wine and Food Society and was a member of the Chevaliers du Tastevin.More than anything, Tig loved spending time on the beach in Del Mar. When not on one of the ranches, he would be at his Del Mar beachfront home, bodysurfing, walking with his beloved dogs, and chatting with everyone he met. The consummate host, he was happiest gathered with friends and family on his front patio overlooking the beach.In 1996, Tig married Anne Fortinberry. They spent the next 24 years together, splitting their time between their home in Rancho Santa Fe, the beach house in Del Mar, and travels overseas. On Sunday mornings, they attended the Village Church in Rancho Santa Fe. On Monday evenings, they could be found having dinner together at Tony’s Jacal in Solana Beach.Tig is survived by his wife, Anne, daughter Elizabeth Wohlford-MacLeod (Clay), daughter Dana Wohlford (Philip Kidd), son Burnet B. Wohlford (Molly), and five grandchildren. He is also survived by his cousin, Mark Finley, two nieces, and his beloved cat, Jackie-O.A celebration of Tig’s life will be held at a future date. In lieu of flowers, please send donations either to: Elephant Valley at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, 2920 Zoo Drive, San Diego, CA 92101; or to the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, Attention: Memorial Gifts, 434 Galvez Mall, Stanford, CA 94305.
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Published in San Diego Union-Tribune on Feb. 14, 2021.