(I don’t usually post something this long but I wanted to share Wolfgang’s eulogy. While I never met him, I have the honor of being friends with his daughter Angelika (Traudel). I found him to be a very interesting man and wish I had met him. I hope you enjoy learning more about a wonderful person, who has instilled a lot of his great qualities in his daughter Angelika).
Wolfgang Paul was a man with a great Christian faith, a great father, scientist, historian, and friend.
History is a great teacher. I always remember Papa saying that and he truly experienced so many of the lessons history had to offer, many of them harsh. As well he would describe himself as “A graduate of the university of difficulty.”
He was born on January 9th 1928 in Bohemia to Walther and Anna Paul. The son of hard working parents who owned a marmalade and confection factory. He grew up in the small German town of Sohland an der Spree right on the border of Germany and Czechoslovakia. He and his brother Helmut learned science in their own chemistry lab and they also learned to work in the factory. They enjoyed sports with Wolfgang being a very good runner. He had a motorcycle which he enjoyed riding very fast. One time getting caught by his teacher who scolded him for speeding down the road. Yes, at one time Wolfgang was a child, and even a teenager.
Wolfgang learned to drive the big trucks that required a lot of physical effort just to keep moving as well as keeping the engine running on Wood Gas, an alternative fuel to Gasoline that required constant attention to keep going. This was a skill that may have saved his life. He even had a truck drivers license good in over 100 countries.
After the German annexation of Czechoslovakia the closeness he had with his family was put to a brutal test when his Jewish descent was discovered. Far beyond schoolyard bullying the persecution of those with any Jewish ancestry, even those who truly practiced their Christian faith, was severe. Some of his relatives were already lost to Nazi “Procedures”. He saw his Grandmother taken away by the police to Laufergasse Prison where she suffered greatly. As she was being loaded into the prison van, Wolfgang told her “Auf Wiedersehen in Amerika!” I’ll see you in America! At the time that was an offence punishable by death. He did meet her again years in Los Angeles, CA. Wolfgang was always a man of his word.
The duration of the war saw his father put into hard labor camps at Limestone quarries and underground mining because he refused to divorce his wife due to her Jewish descent. Wolfgang also learned that their whole family was scheduled for execution by the Gestapo. A fate narrowly escaped due to the approach of the soviet army.
The Gestapo and SS scurrying away before the approach of the steamroller of the soviet army was a short lived comfort. When many refugees were fleeing the approaching soviet army he tried to get into a truck that he thought would take him to some safety. The truck left him behind and as it pulled away he felt like a drowning man missing a life boat. Only about a mile down the road, that same truck was struck by a bomb killing everyone on board. Wearing a white band on their arms, Wolfgang and Helmut were allowed to walk home by the occupying soviet army.
Since Wolfgang and his family were oppressed by the Nazis the occupying soviets treated them a little bit better off than some, however with the cold war beginning, the iron curtain began to drop across the east.
Despite living through such unbelievable hardships and seeing such senseless violence and brutality, he was never embittered. He still knew what it meant to love and to be able to forgive. His experiences strengthened his faith and his love of family. To remain capable of love during that time when they had nearly lost their every possession, and very nearly lost their lives was a testament to Wolfgang’s character, humility and love for others. “They that sow in tears shall reap with joy”
Between 1946-1949 Wolfgang continued to study science and mineralogy and Chemistry at the University of Erlangen, and the Saxony State College of Mines in Freiberg. He became very close to the director of the mining College, Engineer Felix Edelmann. He would often be invited to dinner at his house. He met and befriended Mr. Edelmann’s children. Hans, Christian, and his daughter Ursula. He did not know it at the time but 21 years later, Ursula would become his beloved wife, and the mother of his children. With his brother Helmut he wrote his dissertation and earned his doctorate of science for Mineralogical and Bio Geochemical research works from 1949-1959.
By February of 1953, East Germany was under a Stalinistic Communist government and Wolfgang and his family had to leave East Germany, leaving their home, factory and most every possession they had and moved to the west under “danger of life and limb”. Wolfgang crossed the iron curtain several times under great danger which included being imprisoned, beaten severely. Again, despite losing nearly everything and suffering, he continued to forgive and not become embittered against the world.
In 1956 Wolfgang came to America to explore. He moved first to Indianapolis Indiana for a mining engineering job, however when he arrived he found the job was no longer there. He then put his truck driving skills to use and traveled all over the country living in Los Angeles where his grandparents were living, San Francisco and then befriending Clarence Lee Whittemore and working on his ranch in central Oregon. During this time he continued his scientific studies and research and even mining gold in Oregon. Always during his travels he was writing to young Ursula who was growing up half a world away in East Germany.
Wolfgang Earned another Doctorate of Science on June 1, 1963 from the Western States College in Portland Oregon.
Wolfgang continued to live in Redmond Oregon doing research and writing and working for his friend Clarence. Clarence was lost to an automobile accident in August of 1966 and Wolfgang remembered it as one of the saddest days of his life. He always regarded Clarence as a true comrade which is the highest title Wolfgang could ever bestow on anyone. After that Wolfgang lived with his friends and neighbors Buck and Jerry Sue Buckingham developing a friendship that remained until the end.
As he worked and traveled his relationship with Ursula strengthened through writing to each other regularly and their connection deepened. It seemed that the Iron Curtain was the obstacle to Wolfgang being with a woman that he really loved. He proposed to her in a letter, and she accepted his proposal. At the time it was almost impossible to get an exit visa due to the cold war. He traveled to East Germany under the guise of doing “mining research” hiding the fact that he was going to get married and even hiding the fact that he was German. I remember how he described the border guard asking him if he could speak any German, and he faked an American accent speaking German kind of sounding like an exaggerated version of John Wayne and saying something to the effect of “I can speak a little bit of German” in German. This managed to fool the guard.
After this difficult and dangerous journey he met his beloved Ursula, his bride to be and On February 12, 1972 they married in an old mining church at Langenau in the Saxon Ore Mountains. Their wedding rings were made from gold that he had mined from Oregon. They had their honeymoon in Budapest Hungary and through no easy route got out from behind the iron curtain, and took a Finnish freighter through the North Sea, across the Atlantic, across Panama and through the Pacific landing safely in Oakland California. They quickly moved to Hillsboro Oregon where on May 9, 1973 Ursula gave birth to their first child, my wife Kathi. Just over a year later their second child Michi was born on May of 1974. Wolfgang had learned how to birth children with the help of a midwife and all of his children were born at home with his daughter Traudel being born in Chewelah in November of 1980 and Heidi being born in September of 1982.
Wolfgang continued to work in the mining profession and writing books. This work brought him even closer to God and his faith. Mining and faith were always intertwined as a miner going into the pits sometimes thousands of feet deep always had to be prepared to meet his maker. “Die today, Dance Tomorrow” was a Russian saying. His church, the Confessing Church of Christ was severely persecuted by the Third Reich. Rather than run away from his Christian faith, or turning to anger, his faith strengthened under that burden. “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” Wolfgang began his studies to become a minister and in November 1977 he became an Ordained Minister in Halfway Oregon. In 1979 he and his family moved to Chewelah Washington to an old farm house that they fixed up.
Wolfgang loved his wife and children very deeply and he always described his wife as a “Real Woman”. He knew her since she was 5 years old, struggled for years to get her out of East Germany, finally married, had 4 children with her and he considered them all to be gifts of God. He was very happy with his beloved wife Ursula. Unfortunately his beloved Ursula was found to have Cancer and became gravely ill, and she passed away in 1984 leaving him a father of 4 with his youngest only 1 ½ years old. They were married for only 12 years but they were filled with love and happiness with each other. Despite another tragedy in his life, again Wolfgang chose love. Love for his children whom he cared for and sacrificed for, not building up treasures on earth, but teaching love, forgiveness, patience, kindness, humility and being a true friend.
Having known Wolfgang and his children for over 22 years I can see how his love for them was very deeply rooted. He gave himself up for all of them and they were all with him until the very end. Always telling him that he was the best, how wonderful of a father he was and that they loved him so much. He was a dear friend to me, always honest, always a teacher, always a man of God. He had a great sense of humor and he got me on more than one occasion with an April Fools Day joke. He loved good food with a good beer. He loved life. He would always greet you with a smile and in all things he worked for the cause of love.
He called his children Golden Nuggets and they were the light of his life. He would be there for their school functions, made every birthday, Christmas, and Thanksgiving special despite having very little money. He was the pastor for Easter service and he baptized all 7 of his grandchildren. He came to their graduations their birthdays, sporting events and so many other things. He enriched all of our lives with his wisdom, experiences and love.
He worked passionately on his writing working right until the end, “Dying in the saddle” he would say. He received recognitions from mining and health institutions, colleges and institutions, even presidents. We won’t hold that against him however… He published over 30 books, and in the last few weeks of his life he gave a discourse on Mining in Moscow Russia with strength dignity and honor. He was in every sense of the word a Real Man and he will be missed dearly. He gets to again be the explorer, the adventurer, to hold his beloved wife to find his treasures in heaven, to see the sun rise on that new tomorrow without end.
He was preceded in death by his Father and Mother Walther Paul and Anna Paul, His dear wife Ursula Paul, and his brother Helmut. He is survived by his four children Kathi, Michi, Traudel and Heidi, and his seven grandchildren.
Photo is of Wolfgang and his daughter Angelika (Traudel)