I was born June 30, 1926 in North Bellingham at my mother’s parents’ farm. My father was working as a Chemical Engineer at an oil refinery in Tampico – not a suitable place to raise a family. A year later, my father got a permanent job at Continental Oil Company in Ponca City, Oklahoma, so that is where I grew up.
In the 1930’s we had a family tradition of driving up to Lummi Island where my paternal grandfather had a summer cabin where we spent our summers. My father, of course, had only a two week vacation, so my Mother drove the five day trip with five little kids.
During the war which started in 1941, we could not make the trip, because gasoline was rationed and civilians could not buy tires at any price. At age 15 I got my first summer job at a furniture store where I became a linoleum layer’s helper. I learned the skill so rapidly, my boss doubled my salary and sent me out on linoleum jobs by myself. But of course, school ended this budding career.
Military service and college occupied the next several years of my young life. The Navy put me through school for a year to become an Aviation Electronic Technician so I could repair any and all radio RADAR, LORAN and all other electronic equipment used by the Navy. After the war, I became a Chemical Engineer with Master’s degree at Univ. of Michigan.
My first job as an adult was at the Research Dept. at a huge wartime petroleum refinery in Louisiana operated by Cities Service Co. After a time, Cities sponsored me to a year of Admiral Rickover’s Oak Ridge School of Reactor Technology at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The student body was composed of physicists, chemists, mathematicians and engineers all brought together to study nuclear energy. There, with Secret “Q” clearance, I learned nuclear physics and how to build nuclear reactors. This was at the time (1951) when the first two nuclear submarines, the Nautilus and the Seawolf were under development. We studied the designs of these two reactors. I never moved into nuclear energy as a profession,
Next move was to Mobil Oil R & D where I worked on developing better cracking catalysts to increase yield of gasoline from crude oil. Finally, in 1973 when I was 46 years old, and having previously decided that marriage with a herd of yapping kids growing into teenage monsters was not for me, I submitted my one sentence letter to Mobil, packed all my belonging and moved to Lummi Island so I could start living. I spent the next several years volunteering full time at Beach School.
Also, in 1976 I was elected Treasurer of LICA and eventually Treasurer of both Beach School PTO and Island Library. In those days, Treasury Reports tended to be a few penciled numbers on a 3×5 piece of paper or the back of an envelope. So, I, with no experience in treasury work, created a formal format for treasury reports showing all aspects of the Treasury.
I have been Treasurer of LICA for 47 years. I was treasurer of Island Library for about 35 years. I have been Editor of the Tome for about 42 years. I have mowed the Otto Preserve Meadow for several years to keep it nice for the Heritage Trust summer picnic. But now at age 96, I am slowing down. I no longer seek out opportunities to consume my time and energy. I think I’ll take a nap before suppertime.
Paul retired from the LICA Board December 1st 2022, but is still at it, sending out the LICA Brown Betty, doing the LICA History Archives, and other things.
Updated: 2023/03/03 @ 12:07 am Tark Henderson