Tom Bech Paulsen
In Loving Memory
November 26, 1922 - May 24, 2017
Tom Paulsen passed away Wednesday, May 24 2017. He was doing what he loved best, tinkering on his latest project in his workshop. Tom had just celebrated his 58th wedding anniversary with the love of his life and fellow adventurer Nadine (Blomquist) Paulsen.
Tom was so many things in life. He was an adventurer, mentor, inventor, a leader, a confidant, and much more. Tom was one of those rare people who followed their dreams and made them into reality.
Tom was born, Thorkild Bech Poulsen, in Lemvig, Denmark, on the family estate. Tom lived through the Depression and came of age just before WW II started. As per long standing family tradition he joined the Danish Royal Guards when he was of age. He was the 10th generation of Poulsen's to do so.
During his stint as a Royal Guard, World War II broke out. Germany quickly invaded and occupied Denmark. The Royal Guards as a whole were interned into a prisoner of war camp. The King, Christian X of Denmark, was eventually able to negotiate the Guards release upon a promise that the Guards would cease and desist their fight against Germany occupation. Upon his release, Tom returned to Lemvig and promptly joined the Danish Resistance. He became a cell leader and did his upmost to fight the occupation.
These escapades were as mundane as drawing up plans of the local German beach defensive, to the Resistance calling in a bomber airstrike on a local Gestapo headquarters. However, the two actions he was most proud of during his time as a Danish Resistance fighter was being a part of a group of people that risked their lives to help Danish Jews flee to Sweden. And second, finding a wounded American pilot in hiding and help him escape to Sweden.
After the end of World War II, the American pilot he helped rescue sent him a letter telling Tom he arrived safely back in the USA and how thankful he was for his help. Thus began a correspondence that eventually led to the pilot sponsoring Tom's bid to become an American residence. It was not an easy path, he had a 5 year waiting period before entry was allowed. While waiting, he lived and worked in Canada for a Swedish construction company that was building barracks for American Airforce bases in Alaska.
Eventually Tom made it to Seattle, Washington where he decided to settle. He worked hard to become an American citizen. Back then, to become a citizen, you needed to stand before an immigration judge. When asked why he wanted to be an American citizen. Tom responded, "Your Honor, I have always been an American citizen, I was just born in the wrong country".
Tom worked hard to build Tom Paulsen Construction into a premier custom home construction company. He has won many awards through his career including Architect Institute of America Home of the Year award. However, he always credited his success to his employees. His philosophy was to build his homes like fine Danish furniture. To that extent he hired and mentored the best Danish, German, and American Carpenters he could find and treat them as family.
Tom loved to dance and play soccer on the Danish soccer team (until his 60's). He met the love of his life Nadine Blomquist, at a Swedish club dance. Tom and Nadine enjoyed traveling throughout the world for 58 years. Tom's other hobbies were scuba diving, hunting, and learning to fly. Most importantly, Tom was a loving husband, father, grandfather, and friend. All who knew Tom can attest to his love of life, determination, and caring soul.
Tom is survived by his wife Nadine; his son Chris (Karen), his daughters Lisa (Tom) and Kirsten (Patrick); his grandchildren Lauren, Kelli, Sean, Eric, Dane, and Bowen.
Tom lived life to its fullest and had no regrets.
A Celebration of life will be held at Bellevue First Presbyterian Church (1717 Bellevue Way NE) at 3:00pm July 16th.
Published in The Seattle Times on Jun. 18, 2017.