Thomas Erwin; Eight-Term Assemblyman

Thomas M. Erwin, who authored legislation that created the California Department of Fish and Game, has died in a Sacramento hospital. He was 97.

Erwin, who represented Whittier, La Puente and West Covina in the Assembly for 16 years, died Friday. A Republican, he was first elected to the 50th Assembly District seat in 1942 and was reelected seven times before retiring from the Legislature in 1958.

He served as chairman of the powerful Assembly Rules Committee and also chaired the Revenue and Taxation, Livestock and Dairy, and Fish and Game committees.

Erwin’s legislative accomplishments included sponsorship of the statutes creating the fish and game unit and those establishing the veterinary medicine school at UC Davis.


A 1923 graduate of Occidental College, Erwin owned the Golden Poppy Dairy in La Puente before entering politics and served in the 1930s and ‘40s as president of the Milk Producers Assn. of California, the Los Angeles County Farm Bureau and the Los Angeles Producers Credit Corp.

In 1958 he campaigned unsuccessfully for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, losing to Frank Bonelli in the 1st District race.

Erwin operated ranches in Yolo and Yuba counties after retiring from politics. He had been a resident of Applegate in Placer County since 1988.