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Caturia-Smidt Funeral Home - Hastings
201 East 7th Street
Hastings, MN 55033
651-437-9419

Paul A. BIRCHEN

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Age 93 Of Hastings Died January 20, 2014. Survived by wife Rhoda; children Lola (Allen) Ling, Bill (Dorreen) and Lisa; grandchildren Paul Birchen and Susan (Taylor) Jones; and great grandson Oliver. Preceded in death by parents Phillip and Theresa and sisters Mildred Dockstader, Monica Wildes, Martha Junglen and Marian Konsbruck. Paul was born October 6, 1920 in Hastings, where he lived his entire life. In June, 1945, he met Rhoda Matsch at a wedding. They fell in love and were married on May 25, 1946. Paul served in the Eighth Air Force in the Second World War. He was based in England and flew 23 missions, mostly over Germany. In July, 1944, the plane in which he was serving as top turret gunner engineer came under enemy attack and erupted in flames. Paul threw out burning flares and oxygen tanks, beat out the fire with his flack suit and repaired damage to the plane, saving the lives of the crew. His many military honors include the Silver Star, Purple Heart, Good conduct Medal and a medal awarded by the French government for his role in the air offensive in the Normandy invasion. After the war, Paul worked for his father's petroleum products business, Local Oil Co. He eventually became the owner of the business, which he built and expanded over the years to include service stations and a convenience store. The business was passed on to son Bill when Paul retired. Paul served on the board of directors of the Northwest Petroleum Association for several years and was admired and respected by his colleagues. Over the years, Paul and Rhoda enjoyed traveling to many foreign and U.S. destinations for Air Force reunions, business-related events and to celebrate special anniversaries. Paul also went on hunting trips to Montana and elsewhere with son Bill. In his later years, Paul was an avid reader and especially enjoyed books about WWII and railroad history. He was a member of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Knights of Columbus. Paul was a quiet, honest, hard-working man. He was a loving husband, dad and grandpa and will be greatly missed by his family. The family wishes to express our sincere gratitude to the compassionate and skilled care provided from Allina Hospice and Acti-Kare. Visitation 5-7 pm Wednesday and one hour prior to the Funeral Service at 10:30 am on Thursday, January 23rd at Caturia-Smidt Funeral Home, 201 East Seventh St., Hastings. Memorials to Caring and Sharing Hands. 651-437-9419


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Published in Pioneer Press on Jan. 21, 2014
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