Paul Michael McDonnell, 44, of Mountain Center, died Friday, Dec. 27, 2002, in Mountain Center.

He was born March 24, 1958, in Nebraska.

Mr. McDonnell had worked at the U.S. Forest Service as a Vista Grande Hotshot for 12 years and for the Riverside County Transportation Department for seven years. He also was a farmer and was known as “Farmer Paul.”

Family and friends said he always had an open door to the community.

“His Rusty Nail Ranch offered produce, eggs and a petting zoo to all inquiring minds,” said a friend. For Idyllwild’s younger students, a highlight of the year was a field trip to the McDonnell’s pumpkin patch, she said.

“Children enjoyed crafts, creative cooking and life on the farm. Most of the children will remember him for the famous tractor rides he gave.

“There is no need to say that Paul will be sorely missed.”

Funeral services are at 11 a.m. Friday, Jan. 3 at Holy Spirit Catholic Church, 26340 Soboba Street in Hemet, with Father Silvio D’Ostilio officiating.

He is survived by his wife, Mary McDonnell; a son, Michael, 5; a brother, Pat McDonnell of Maryland; two sisters, Reta German of Illinois and Janet Randa of Barstow; and his father in Arizona.

His mother, Jeanne Rae McDonnell and a sister, Laura Ann McDonnell, preceded him in death.

In lieu of flowers, donations will be accepted for Mary and Michael McDonnell at Guaranty Bank in Idyllwild.