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John Whitehead (county agent) & Paul

John Whitehead (county agent) & Paul

About The Author

Paul Saunders is a 76-year-old native of Nelson County. He has spent all of his life in the county with the exception of the seven years away in college, the Army, and involvement in other agricultural activities. He returned home to Nelson in 1957 with his wife, Tatum, who was a farm girl from Franklin County. Initially he was an active land surveyor in addition to running a peach orchard and boxwood nursery. In 1981, he was bitten by a snake when crawling out of a creek. It was then he decided to become a full time farmer. Now he and four of his sons are partners in an orchard and nursery business near Piney River.

A 1954 graduate of Va. Tech and active in Va. Tech activities, he is past President of the Va. Tech Alumni Association, nationwide.  He is the author of a 600+ page history book of his native Nelson County, titled, “Heartbeats of Nelson.”  He is a collector and intense student of early rural life artifacts and agricultural machinery.  He was the founder and is the coordinator of the National Boxwood Trials which evaluates boxwood cultivar performance over the United States and several foreign countries.  He and Tatum were participators in a boxwood expedition to the Republic of Georgia in 2001 searching for new boxwood cultivars.    

He is a member of Rose Union Baptist Church, where he served for many years as a Sunday school teacher and is presently a member of the church choir and is a deacon..


He is an avid trout fisherman and loves to rabbit hunt. He and Tatum have seven biological sons, two adopted sons, 30 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.


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