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Paul David Buell

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Paul David Buell March 21, 1920 - Jan. 28, 2013 Resident of Capitola A Giant has fallen. Monday January 28, 2013, my Father, retired Master Sergeant Paul David Buell, passed peacefully surrounded by his loving family and his favorite Crooners, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby & Glen Miller, at the age of ninety-two. Born March 21, 1920, in South Bend Indiana, he was a man who lived his life in service to both country and community. I didn't know my Dad when he left his home in Glendale, California, at 16 to join the army in 1936, serving in both WWII and Korea, but we've spent the last many years looking through his albums of the time, pictures that speak to a different era. Buick- lined streets, my Father, always in uniform or shirtless on the shores of Honolulu, where he did his basic training and was a member of the 55th Coast Artillery until 1941 when called to combat in the Pacific Theater. Pictures of palm trees, his buddies, all with cigarettes or pipes in their hands, carrying surf boards or bayonets. "Time was," Dad would say, as he stared misty- eyed at his band of brothers, "Can't remember their names, but will never forget 'em." There are a few pictures of my half brothers, following our Dad wherever the army took him but not many. They grew up with a Dad who sent his check home, but a man they didn't see often. Dad's military service was stellar. The Bronze Star and other medals were awarded. He kept the many gifts and letters from superiors, his troops and the communities he served, whether in the U.S, Germany, the Philippines or Korea, for all of these years. While Dad marched in battle, his big sister Mary Duffield took to the halls and streets of Berkeley in protest. While often opposed politically they shared a deep respect and love until the day Dad died. I can't imagine that a big sister could be any prouder of her baby brother. My Dad flew from France to New York and retired from military service the same day he married my mother, at New York City Hall. It was the first time he ate a Matzo ball, tried Gefilte Fish or broke a glass on purpose. Dad and mom settled in Sacramento, California, where I was born a year later. After Korea, Dad had been stationed at Fort Ord. He returned to the central coast in 1962 to get out of the central valley heat and be close to his sister Mary. We lived on the west side and Dad worked at Plantronics. Mom says he took me to Gilda's every Sunday morning for hot cocoa. Gilda's remained his favorite spot for the next 50 years. The Buell bunch bought their first and only home in 1963 in Capitola. Dad had a second chance at fatherhood and he held tight. Dad was always a steady presence in my life. We didn't have deep conversations and he didn't try to be my friend, but his love, respect and dedication anchored me. He lived his dream and helped me with mine. Provided me with an education he never had, and a home filled with love and security. The summer of 5th grade my folks had a pool put in, which was always bubbling with neighbors, colleagues and friends. Looking through pictures of my Father in middle age, he was always up, mugging for the camera, enjoying his friends, celebrating with family. When I went away to college, my Father dedicated even more of himself to the Lions Club. He was awarded the Melvin Jones Award and was made a lifetime member. The Lions Club offered him the camaraderie of a band of brothers (and later sisters) that filled his social calendar and need for service. He served for over 35 years, participating in white cane drives, visitations, tree lots and yearly conventions filled with golf and friends. Dad retired many times. He was so bad at retiring the Sentinel did a piece on him in 1988. After Plantronics, he spent 15 years in the service department of Marina Pontiac Cadillac, then on to Al Cheney Ford and finally Redding / Santa Cruz Title where he finally did manage to retire sometime in his 80s. In addition to the Lions he was involved in the Capitola Chamber of Commerce, drove for the Volunteer Bureau and helped at Grey Bears. Both my parents modeled a life of service and responsibility and those values are woven through the hearts and minds of my children as well. In my Father's later years, when his "Old Timers" took hold, robbing him of the ability to contribute to society in the manner in which he was accustomed, my mother would coordinate with his buddies to take him to Lions. Even as Dad's world shrank and huge chunks of memory washed into the sea, my mother continued to devote herself to his care. She was a wonderful partner and support for him from the start. We eventually found refuge in Aegis Assisted Living in Aptos. Dad could still be part of a community rich in culture and activities. Musicians came in and performed almost daily and Dad was always in the front row singing along to all the old tunes and heckling the musicians and staff. His love of family and sense of humor continued to prevail. My mom joined him for lunches, and family & friends stopped in for dinners. Even though he'd repeatedly ask "What's my name, where are we going, who am I," he trusted enough to jump in our car for a long ride along the coast, a hair cut from a pretty girl, an occasional pedicure and a hot cup of Starbucks with his grandchildren. "How old are you, where do you go to school, what's your name, who am I?" He was always up for a dog park adventure, or a trip to the Live Oak Library. We'd find him a cozy chair while his grandson showed him pictures of reptiles and read the captions-- "Well, that's great hun, that's really somethin'." We'd follow the coast, admire the trees and waves, search the sky for pelicans, talk about how everything's changing, what Santa Cruz used to look like. "All this was open field," he'd say. We'd wave to the cement ship, he'd thank God for the eucalyptus, for us, for the sun, and we'd sing till we'd drop him back at his new place with his new friends, where everyone knew his name, even on the days he didn't. I've missed you for many years Dad, but you continued to teach me even as your mind was failing and social conventions fell away; there is always gratitude and love and I certainly am grateful to have had you for a Father. Dad's ashes will be scattered at sea off the coast of Hawaii by the military. We take comfort that he is ending his great journey where it started and he will again find his way back to the shores of California on the tides. Dad leaves a loving family behind: his wife of 52 years Shirley Buell of Santa Cruz, his big sister Mary Duffield of Capitola, his daughter Nancy and daughter in law Lisa and his grandchildren Delaney and Hayden Paul Buell, his son Paul "Buzzy" Buell of Germany, his grandsons Wolfram (Tamar) and Neidhardt (Christine) Buell and his great grandkids Rebecca, Kathryn and Kira of Seattle, Washington, and his son Peter Buell. He leaves behind many beloved nieces and nephews scattered throughout the west coast. He was preceded in death by his brother Neel Buell, sister Jane Akers and granddaughter Madison Buell. Family and friends are invited to celebrate Dad March 2nd at 1:00 at the Capitola Community Center at Jade Street Park. In lieu of flowers we ask that you make a contribution to the Santa Cruz Host Lions Club or find a community organization that you can sink your heart into.
Published in Santa Cruz Sentinel on Feb. 20, 2013
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