Philip Samuel Poulen

1927 - 2020

Philip Samuel Poulen peacefully passed into his Savior’s presence from his Laguna Beach home on May 17. Philip was born in Burlington, Vermont, to Dorothy Bresett on August 6, 1927, but was raised by his adoptive parents, Gladys and Samuel E. Poulen. When Samuel contracted a serious illness from working as a granite polisher, Phil did whatever he could to help. He knocked on every door selling laundry soap and holiday cards, and saved every penny he made.

He was able to use that change to change his life. At 15, he helped his parents move to a warmer climate in Long Beach, where Samuel opened a small corner market. Phil attended Poly High School from 1941-1945, where he met his future bride. In 1945, he enlisted in the Naval Reserve as Seaman 2nd Class, and served as a cook in Seattle. He was able to utilize his G.I. Bill and attend USC, graduating in 1950 with a bachelor’s and two master’s degrees.

Phil married his childhood sweetheart Rosemary Cournoyer on August 17, 1950. Soon afterward, Greg and Lisa were born. In 1955, Phil started as a schoolteacher, and in 1957 he became the youngest principal in the Tustin Unified School District, where he enjoyed a 30-year career at Guin Foss and Helen Estock Elementary Schools. Many benefited from his mentorship.

He enjoyed summers off, traveling by trailer with his family, visiting relatives in Massachusetts, Vermont and Connecticut. He also got a summer job selling real estate, where he outsold the full-timers. From living in poverty as a youth, the tough times gave him the drive to succeed. He built his life on hard work, but since he loved what he did, he felt he never ‘worked’ a day in his life.

Phil's life was rich in struggles and success, so he always had a story to be told.  His larger than life personality, generosity, and warmth left behind a huge legacy.  He was a whirlwind of energy, avid golfer, skier, fisherman, tennis player, bowler, and horse racing fan, but spending time with family and friends was his greatest joy.  From camping to cruising, Phil loved to travel.  He enjoyed camping so much that his second career was in the mountains of Lake Tahoe, where he and his family operated the Lake Tahoe KOA Campground from 1978 - 2018, creating wonderful memories for many.

Phil will be remembered for many things, but mostly for the love and devotion he had for his family and his wife of over 52 years.  He was a wonderful father-in-law to Nanci and Michael, grandfather to Kyla, Lucy, Logan, Molly and Elijah.  Elijah was born on May 15, 2020 - just two days before Phil passed.

The family would like to give thanks to everyone who shared a part of his life and invite you to enjoy this tribute to a truly amazing man.