I saw the caller’s name on my phone as I answered that evening expecting to talk about the latest idea for our conference, or something else related to the workings of CT COLT …only to get the sad news that Paul had passed away that day. NOOOO, it can’t be! We had our summer luncheon date planned to talk about all the myriad facets of CT COLT. I wanted to remind Paul how much we needed to continue to convert our historical documents and the stuff in his head input into our Google drive. I wanted to ask him if he would work with me again on the boxes of historical stuff stored in the warehouse. After this horrific year I wanted to see my friend in person and give him a hug. The news was instant shock, denial, and profound grief. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Paul was fine when I had just talked to him not long ago.
For those of you who don’t know Paul other than seeing his name or address on something to be mailed, he has been our CT COLT Treasurer since 1992. That is when our history together started with my first stint on the CT COLT board. After serving two presidents ,my time on the board ended, but Paul remained to serve our organization. Over the next 25 years Paul became the integral and consistent force on the board. In effect, Paul functioned as our executive director without the title. It wasn’t until I came back on the board as VP/President that I actually realized how essential Paul had become to the organization. He became my advisor, my “go to” person whenever I had a question of past practices, of preparing budgets, and so much more. Every president, every committee chair that worked with Paul knew how dependable and valuable Paul was to our organization.
Paul managed our treasury keeping us fiscally responsible. He dealt with the tax accountant, the state department (remember when we had to give out CEUs?) , the banks to manage our multiple accounts. He paid the bills and reimbursements the moment they arrived, and made sure all of our functions were covered by insurance riders, always protecting the organization. He edited, formatted and added to our newsletters, maintained our membership lists, did the registrations for the poetry contests, for the fall conferences, put together our first website and became our webmaster, and maintained all of the countless records for our organization. And much of this involved driving, delivering, and meeting long before we were able to do so much electronically.
Despite health issues, Paul remained steadfastly dedicated to CT COLT right up to his death. He had an uncanny ability to find the answer to any question almost within minutes of the request. As one past president put it “his many health issues colored his life”. Yet, Paul was literally an email away from a solution. Anything that Paul touched was returned “perfect”. He was a “detallista”. He checked and double checked the poetry packets, the conference packets, the treasury reports, and so much more. While all of us were swamped and fried from our incredible year, Paul took over mailing out the poetry medals, another unseen task that no one knows about after having pulled off our first virtual contest!
As we tried to spread the news about Paul through phone calls rather than seeing it posted somewhere, it became apparent to us that Paul had impacted so many of us so deeply. It wasn’t just the work that he did for our organization and profession. It was the care that he took to do something well. He provided us with an example of commitment to our profession years after he had retired. As another past president and poetry contest chair said “Paul took the time to build personal friendships while working hard. I always held him in high regard for his work ethic and kindness.”
I am blessed to have known Paul as my friend. I am grateful for his work and dedication to our organization that provides incredible support to our profession over all these years. I know that I am not alone in feeling this profound loss. As an organization, we will continue to honor Paul’s incredible legacy, including a special celebration at our fall conference in October. If you have a special memory to share or photos of Paul, please email it to Linda Dalpe at firstname.lastname@example.org by Sept. 14th 2021.