Husband, father, brother, friend.
Died of a heart attack on Sunday morning. Sixty years old. Unexpected and devastating.
The first characteristic that comes to mind when I consider Paul is that he was charming; in a good way, not a calculating way. Everyday he told his wife, Betty, that he loved her and that she was beautiful and desirable. It sounds corny, but he made it work.
Also, he was mannerly towards women. He held doors and watched his language, gestures that might be considered old-fashioned, but I always appreciated them. If he saw me carrying something, even if it was a little thing like a cake or a shopping bag, he’d rush forward with a “Here Jenny, let me get that.”
He had an uncanny knack for discerning and complimenting the one thing that a person valued most or had put the most effort into. Once when he, David, and I were grabbing Chinese in Houston, he gazed thoughtfully at me across the table and told me that he’d never seen teeth as perfect as mine. Another time when I was wearing one of my favorite sweaters, he told me that the color looked great on me. How was he able to so accurately pinpoint the source of my vanities? And he was this insightful with everyone, not just me. He could meet a person for the first time and immediately perceive what she or he held most dear.
I’m not sure how accurate it would be to call him the last of the wildcatters, but that’s the way I thought of him. I know he loved his work and, as he was materially successful and so very personable, I’m certain he was highly respected and will be missed by his peers.
Once, at one of our many Waldo gatherings, David complained that people came to business meetings with their minds closed, which led to arguments, shouting matches, and hurt feelings; and Paul offered this advice:
“I have a trick for when a meeting gets noisy. I cross my arms over my chest, lean away from the discord, and keep my mouth shut until someone asks for my opinion. Then all eyes turn to me. The quiet man wins every time.”
“But that’s manipulation,” I said, indignant because a person should be authentic.
“If crucial information isn’t being heard because people are acting like baboons, the reasonable response is to create a calm environment where communication can take place.”
So in this way Paul taught me that, though handling people and manipulating people carry essentially the same meaning, they’re not the same thing at all. Being able to handle someone is an admirable gift while manipulating someone implies a selfish or even dishonest agenda. He was indeed a wise man.
He never made an enemy and he never lost a friend. I never heard him insult anyone. He was never cruel or impatient. He didn’t judge harshly and generously took family members into his home when they were down on their luck.
He and David talked on the phone at least once a week. He was more than a brother; he was a cherished friend.
He was one of the best of us and we are heartbroken.