President of Paul Funeral Home dies

Published 1:42 pm Sunday, November 25, 2007

By Staff
Family and friends to carry on his legacy
Staff Writer
For 80 years, Paul Funeral Home has helped Beaufort County families say good-bye to their loved ones, but now must say good-bye to one of its own.
J. Bonner Paul Sr., 91, president and co-owner of Paul Funeral Home in Washington and Belhaven, died Friday evening at Beaufort County Hospital.
Paul served on the North Carolina State Board of Mortuary Science and the North Carolina Burial Association. The North Carolina Funeral Directors Association named him an honorary lifetime member in 2003.
His wife, Lillian Vann Gaylord Paul, said her husband was a special man.
His wife worked at Paul Funeral Home for over 30 years before they were married 12 years ago. “My desk was two or three feet from his.”
Paul treated all his employees like family. He would make sure everyone had eaten lunch before he would, Hodges said. “We were privileged to call him our boss and most importantly our friend.”
The Paul family started the City Furniture Company and a funeral business in 1926. The business split into two businesses in 1933 and Paul Funeral Home opened on East Main Street in Washington, Paul said in a 2002 interview with the Daily News.
Paul followed his uncle, the late Fenner T. Paul, into the funeral side of the business in 1934. He later left for college, graduating from mortuary school in 1937.
Paul left the business again to serve in World War II with the Navy for three and a half years. He was among the military forces training for the invasion of Japan just as the war ended, according to previous reports.
In addition to running Paul Funeral Home, Paul served as Beaufort County coroner for 20 years. He worked to promote North Carolina’s change from the coroners to a medical examiners program, which was accomplished through state legislation in 1965.
Washington Mayor Judy Jennette attended his 90th birthday party last year in July, which detailed Paul’s contributions. “He was very active in the community for many years. … I was really impressed.”
Hodges remembers Paul as a generous, self-made business man who worked hard all his life. “If you needed $10,000 he would give it to you. That’s the kind of man he was.”
His wife said he could be funny and outgoing, but he also had a shy side. “He was just a special man.”
To read J. Bonner Paul’s full obituary go to page 2A.