Edwin Diedrich; Oxnard Farmer

Edwin Diedrich, the grandson of early Oxnard settlers, died Monday of cancer. He was 82.

Diedrich, a lifelong farmer, was born on the same ranch where his father was born in 1884. The ranch was purchased by Diedrich's grandfather Johnnas for $9,000 in 1882--11 years before Oxnard was incorporated.

Johnnas came from Hanover, Germany, with his bride, Matilda, to begin a new life of farming in Oxnard. The ranch, located at 5th Street and Rose Avenue, is still farmed by the Diedrich family.

"We're in strawberry season right now," said Diedrich's sister, Betty Staben.

Diedrich's other grandfather, Joe Sailer, was born in Prutz, Austria, and came to Oxnard in 1897 by way of Chicago, San Francisco and Chino. Sailer was superintendent of the Oxnard brothers' American Beet Sugar Co. factory, which opened in 1899. Sailer also served as Oxnard's third mayor from 1910 to 1920, Staben said. As mayor, Sailer helped design Oxnard's water system.

Diedrich dedicated his life to farming lemons, lima beans and walnuts on his ranch. "He loved to till the soil," Staben said of her brother.

He graduated in a class of three from Santa Clara High School in 1931 and married Margaret Dingeman in 1936, Staben said.

"Oxnard was very different from the way it is now," Staben said. "Before the war, the town was small and everyone knew everyone else. It was just one big family.

"There were no shopping malls, just shops along 5th Street. It was strictly a farming community. All businesses related to farming. And there was just one department store--Lehman Brothers."

Diedrich, who was a member of the Elks Lodge and the Knights of Columbus, also loved to spend his free time flying his airplane.

In addition to Staben, Diedrich is survived by daughters Suzanne Neer of Camarillo and Judith Diedrich of Los Banos, son Edwin Diedrich Jr. of Firebaugh, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Services will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at St. Mary Magdalen Church in Camarillo. Private burial is scheduled at 10 a.m. Friday at Santa Clara Cemetery.

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