A good and faithful servant
With the death of J. Bonner Paul on Friday, Beaufort County and Washington lose more than just a native son and co-owner of Paul Funeral Home.
The community has lost a “trusted fixture,” as a Washington Daily News story about J. Bonner Paul characterized him in January 2002. During his 91 years, Mr. Paul was instrumental in making the Paul family name synonymous with reliability and tradition in the community.
Mr. Paul was generous. Numerous charitable organizations, civic clubs and social-services agencies benefited from that generosity. Mr. Paul understood that making a living in a community means giving something back to the community, and especially if one is blessed with the resources to help his or her fellow human beings. Mr. Paul gave much to the community, whether that community be his neighborhood, his city, his county, his state or his nation.
Mr. Paul left the family business to serve in the Navy’s medical corps during World War II. He was training for the invasion of Japan when the war ended. For years after he left the military, Mr. Paul was a member of local veterans’ groups.
Aside from running a business, Mr. Paul contributed greatly to government and civic activities in Beaufort County. For 20 years, although he had a family to care for and a business to run, Mr. Paul served as county coroner. Over time, the demands of serving as coroner became even more demanding.
Mr. Paul wasn’t the type of person to just walk away from such a situation. He decided to solve the problem. Mr. Paul worked to promote North Carolina’s change from the long-established use of coroners to establishing the state’s medical-examiners program. That was accomplished by legislation in 1965. It was a costly but needed change, according to Mr. Paul.
Mr. Paul served on the North Carolina State Board of Mortuary Science for five years, the last year as president. He served on the North Carolina Burial Association Commission for 10 years.
Mr. Paul was a funeral director who believed a funeral home should be greatly concerned with providing services in a professional and caring manner to grieving families. Take care of the families who called on the funeral home and the funeral home’s “bottom line” would take care of itself, he believed.
Mr. Paul’s professional reputation was such that he was named an honorary lifetime member of the North Carolina Funeral Directors Association in 2003. He received the honor for his support of and contributions to the advancement of the association and the practice of funeral service.
As the Paul family has for others for many generations, it’s time for the community to provide comfort and understanding to the Paul family. It’s the least the community can do. The community owes Mr. Paul and his family much more.
J. Bonner Paul is gone, but what he did for this community lives on. It’s a better community because he made it better.
It’s up to us to make it even better. J. Paul Bonner would expect nothing less.