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In Memoriam: Dr. Edward L. Paul, Former Principal String Bass

Ed was Principal String Bass with the PSO for many years. He made countless contributions as donor and Board member as well.

Below is an obituary written by Ed’s daughter Anne

“My dad, Ed Paul, passed peacefully on Tuesday evening, January 21,2021. My brother Scott and I were there for his last 4 days on this earth, and we are thankful that they were brief.

I don’t think it is possible to live a better life than my dad did. First and foremost, he has always been, and remains, the finest human being I have ever known. It is so hard to encapsulate who he was in words, but certainly brilliant yet humble, endlessly kind and generous, enthusiastically happy come to mind easily.

Scott and I had a remarkable childhood due to his efforts and influence, and he made sure that we both could fully explore our interests and abilities with opportunity and education. He was a completely hands-on dad, and I treasure countless precious memories of growing up in his love and care. He stimulated and supported my primary interest in biology, and likely saw in my future a remarkable career in some kind of animal behavior research. When I suddenly dropped out of graduate school at Boston College, coming home to announce that decision and declaring that I wanted to train dogs, he didn’t miss much more than a beat before supporting that decision, and whatever it meant for me.

I will always be in awe of my dad’s professional accomplishments. A PhD Chemical Engineer, he worked at Merck for 40 years until his retirement as Executive Director of Chemical Engineering Research and Development. He was an internationally recognized expert in the field of mixing and crystallization, and as such worked, lectured, and was admired around the world. At Merck he developed some of the most innovative pharmaceutical processes in the industry, and served as a mentor to scores of young chemical engineers. I believe he was most proud of his contribution to the development of the antibiotic Primaxin, and most especially Crixivan, his final project.

In the late 1980s and through the 1990s there was a rush to discover drugs to treat the HIV/AIDS crisis. It was a race against time; by 1986, 5 million people had been infected and 2 million were dead. My father was part of the team at Merck that led the effort to develop a protease inhibitor that would stop the virus from replicating – and they discovered Crixivan. They undertook an extraordinary effort to accelerate the development and manufacturing of Crixivan to address the critical medical need worldwide, including the crisis in Africa. Producing it is a complicated and long 18-step process. It is still used today, and HIV/AIDS is no longer the death sentence that it was. My dad tells a story about being on a small scuba diving boat in the islands, 5 friends from Merck and 5 other people. One of the other people heard them talking about working for Merck, and went on to say that he was one of the first 100 people to be treated with Crixivan, and was still alive solely because of it.

Both of my parents loved classical music and opera, and music filled our lives. I was provided with the best of instruction in 4 instruments growing up, but that was not where my talents lay, and I last played cello at my college graduation. Many of my dad’s friends are musicians, and his memorial service will be more like a concert than anything else. He played the string bass, and we are so pleased to know that the Plainfield (NJ) Symphony Orchestra, in which he played for decades, will be dedicating their 100th Anniversary concert to him this spring. (Note: Performance canceled due to COVID).

His other great love was the ocean. His parents built our family home in Sea Girt in 1936, 3 blocks from one of the most beautiful beaches in NJ. He has lived there for many years, sharing this beautiful place freely with family and friends. Perhaps he was happiest of all when out on the sea – on a ship, a sailboat, a kayak, a windsurfer, scuba diving, or just swimming. As a small child I was afraid of the waves, and he would patiently and endlessly carry me in his strong arms out into the water and together we would beat back the waves with our arms so that we could advance through them together. An exercise buff, he could swim for miles up and down the coastline. I remember not a few times when on the boardwalk or the beach I would hear someone say “is that someone way out there swimming???” (as he was way further out than normal people would consider). I would smile to myself, and answer, yes, that would be my dad, swimming from Spring Lake to Point Pleasant…. He ran several marathons, and could do literally hundreds of things like pushups and sit ups. He is perhaps most “famous” among his friends for running (not walking) up and down several flights of steps in his home for an hour or more when stuck inside. When Scott and I were small, he had several bouts of severe pneumonia. At the time, the doctors’ advice to him – a young man with 2 children – was to avoid physical activity and exercise so as to not stress his lungs. He went home, thought about that, and in street clothes and a pair of Keds started jogging. “Running” was not at that time anyone did, and he was often stopped by the police who wondered what on earth he was doing. He never got pneumonia again, and when they tested his physical fitness later in life the machines could not measure his lung capacity it was so great.

He treasured going on National Geographic Lindblad expeditions – his most favorite destination being Antartica, where he went several times to explore and walk with the penguins.

As a result of all of his many adventures, my dad had treasured friends from around the world. He was generous to a fault, and loved including his family and friends in his extraordinary life. So many of them visited and called during these last difficult days. His final smiles were when listening to those friends speak to him. He has left a legacy to so many.”

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