Paul Hooker Harrell Jr.
1941 - 2020
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Paul Hooker Harrell Jr

Wilmington - Paul Hooker Harrell, Jr., 79, died peacefully on November 5th at Christiana Hospital in Wilmington, DE. He was born in Greensboro, NC to Lucy Neal Brooks Harrell and Paul Hooker Harrell Sr. He was a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and began his professional career in sales in the textile industry in New York City. Later in Delaware he specialized in the non-profit community focusing on children's education.

He was the former Chairman of the Board of the Rodel Foundation, a member of the Board of Trustees of St. Andrews School, on the Advisory Board of Christiana Hospital and Nemours Health and Prevention Services, former Chairman of the investment committee of the Delaware Community Foundation and co-founder of Social Venture Partners. One of Paul's greatest passions was education reform. He worked in the Markell administration as Director of public/private partnerships at the Department of Education and was instrumental in bringing Teach for America to the state. One of his proudest roles was serving as founding chairman of the board of Delaware College Scholars program (DCS) which was created to help high-achieving public school students succeed in competitive four-year colleges and universities, no matter their backgrounds. Paul was dogged in his belief that DCS should reach as many learners as possible and he dedicated his last working years to ensuring that happened.

It would be impossible to describe all that Paul meant to so many people. Suffice to say, if you knew Paul you knew that he had an unwavering moral compass and endless strength and courage to stand up for what was right. He had an incredible sense of humor, an infectious laugh and an unforgettable smile. He was the first one to call if it was your birthday or anniversary and especially if times were hard. Paul loved meeting new people from all walks of life, indeed one of his greatest gifts was that he could connect with anyone no matter what their background. He was a mentor to many and a friend to all. He cherished his family and was so proud of his children and grandchildren. He loved nothing more than planning family vacations and getting his kids and grandkids together for fun and family time. His friends and family meant everything to him and gave his life purpose. Perhaps the best and most lasting way to remember Paul is on the dance floor, moving to the beat of his own drum and calling out to anyone who could hear "C'mon, man! Let the good times roll!". We love you, Paul. We were the lucky ones.

Paul was preceded in death by his parents Lucy Neal Brooks Harrell, Paul Hooker Harrell Sr., brother, Frank Brooks Harrell and granddaughter Jane Morrison Moore Harrell.

Surviving him are wife Margaret Thouron Harrell; daughter, Piper Brooks Harrell (Pete Goetz); and son, Michael Polk Harrell (Jane); 6 grandchildren; brother, Neal Brooks Harrell (Carolyn) of Chapel Hill, NC; cousins F. A. Brooks, III (Jo) and Joan Brooks Sullivan, along with their children and grandchildren.

There will be a Family Service at Green Hill Cemetery in Greensboro, North Carolina.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to a future scholarship fund in Paul's name at Delaware College Scholars. Please visit www.delawarecollegescholars.com/donate to make a donation.

On line condolences may be made through www.haneslineberryfuneralhomes.com




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Published in The News Journal from Nov. 7 to Nov. 8, 2020.
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Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by Hanes Lineberry Funeral Home
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7 entries
November 10, 2020
My condolences to his wife and children! I had the opportunity to meet this great man as a caregiver for a short time. I had the privilege of listening to stories about his fascinating life and accomplishments.
Claudette Desrosiers
November 10, 2020
I had the opportunity to meet this great man for a short time as a caregiver. It was a pleasure to get to know him and hear about such an interesting life firsthand.
Claudette Desrosiers
Claudette Desrosiers
Acquaintance
November 10, 2020
I had the opportunity to meet this great man for a short time as a caregiver. It was a pleasure to get to know him and hear about such an interesting life firsthand.
Claudette Desrosiers
Claudette Desrosiers
Acquaintance
November 8, 2020
What a beautiful obituary. What a good man. Paul was one of the first people I met when I arrived in DE in 2004.

He was working to launch Social Venture Partners, an effort to support our youngest learners in some of Delaware’s poorest communities. His passion and energy was boundless.

Over time, he helped drive the implementation of Race to the Top, a federal investment of $119m to improve our schools. When the politics got tight, Paul was the one who got things back on track.

Several big initiatives, from leading the early childhood council and moving massive state and federal investment to our babies, launching TFA, and standing up DCS, just wouldn’t have happened without him.

Tens of thousands of Delaware’s kids are better off because of his passion and drive.

He was the board chair of Rodel, the nonprofit I run, and he was a great chair. Someone you wanted in your foxhole. When we had to make big cuts to our team in 2009, he was my sounding board.

More importantly, he was my friend. I loved our breakfasts at the Kozy Korner, (where they all knew his name and he theirs and he’d always get “the usual”) catching up on his kids and grandkids, and sorting out a little business.

But most of all, I loved his laugh. His face would get bright red, his eyes would sparkle, and when he laughed it was like a volcanic eruption with his whole body. Makes me smile thinking of it now.

He did what a lot of us strive for. He not only lived a good life, but a meaningful one.

God bless Paul and to his family and friends, we’re thinking of you.

Paul Herdman
Paul Herdman
Friend
November 8, 2020
We're thankful for all this transplanted Tar Heel did for education in Delaware. Warm regards to the family and thanks for sharing Paul.
Danielle & Kevin Sullivan
Friend
November 8, 2020
Very proud reading of Paul's accomplishments. Remember him well from high school!
Joanne Oliver Bray
November 8, 2020
Thinking of you with love and prayers.
Ruth Hardin Wise
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