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S E C T I O N 2 People March 21, 2012 ■ ALSO INSIDE C A L E N DA R 2 0 | R E A L E S TAT E 2 2 | C L A S S I F I E D S 3 0 ‘The Descendants’ hits close to home for descendant Wil Patterson W Family hen Wilcox Patterson of Portola Valley first read “The Descendants,” the book on which the Academy Award-winning movie was based, it was a deja vu experience — the history of main character Matt King seemed an awful lot like the history of Mr. Patterson’s own Hawaiian ancestors. Story by Watching the movie proBarbara Wood vided even more deja vu for Mr. Patterson, known as Wil, and his wife Sandra. The beach house in the movie looks just like one owned by a cousin on the north shore of Kauai, and other scenes were suggestive of Mr. Patterson’s family background as well. “I thought, wait a minute — this is getting awfully familiar,” Mr. Patterson says. Some of the characters’ names even matched those of his family. “We actually have a cousin Hugh in the family, but the character played in the movie is the antithesis of our cousin Hugh,” Mr. Wilcox says. It turns out there is a very good reason for the similarities: Author Kaui Hart Hemmings is a distant ties Almanac photos by Michelle Le Wilcox Patterson, above, in his Portola Valley home. Top, Mr. Patterson looks over “Grove Farm Plantation,” a biography of his ancestors. cousin of Mr. Patterson’s, and although she has denied in interviews that her book follows any specific family, it borrows a lot of the history of her, and Mr. Patterson’s, own family. Mr. Patterson and Ms. Hart Hemmings are descendants of Abner Wilcox and Lucy Eliza Hart Wilcox, missionary teachers who settled on the island of Kauai in 1846. One of their eight sons, George Norton Wilcox, became one of the wealthiest people in Hawaii and an influential politician and philanthropist before he died at the age of 93 in 1933. George Wilcox’s brother, Charles Hart Wilcox, was Mr. Patterson’s maternal great-grandfather and Kaui Hart Hemmings’ maternal great-great-grandfather. George Wilcox, who never married or had children of his own, left his fortune in trust to his great-nieces and nephews, including Wilcox Patterson’s mother. A board of directors including many family members managed the business, called Grove Farm, until 2000, when it was sold to AOL founder Steve Case, a native of Hawaii with family ties to Grove Farm. Like the sale of the family land in “The Descendants,” the sale was not without controversy. An unsuccessful lawsuit filed by some family members to See WIL PATTERSON, page 19 March 21, 2012 N The Almanac N17

The Almanac 03.21.2012 - Section 2

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