Paul Donley

Paul passed away on Tuesday, June 27.  As a man who survived 12 or 13 heart attacks, he gave life an incredible run.  He used to joke that he knew all the paramedics in the area, and their families, because he had been transported or flown to St. Cloud  hospital so many times.  He was a big man in so many ways and will be sorely missed by all who knew him.

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May 18, 2009:  As previously noted, I have been “appointed” editor of this newsletter by our new president, Paul Donley.  Mr. Donley did this of course in the full knowledge that he would therefore not be responsible for a President’s Page.  Already showing signs of presidentiness!  ~  Me

The following was published in the Alexandria Golf Club newsletter in April 2009, an introduction of the new president to the membership.

Paul Donley, AGC president, grew up in Alexandria and graduated from Jefferson High School in 1964.  Although Paul was born in Minneapolis, by the age of three months he requested that the family move to Alex where he could become a big fish in a small pond.  The family acceded to his request.  His dad made Donley & Osted Plumbing and Heating an institution in Alexandria, and Paul did indeed become a big fish.

Though it pains me to admit this, Paul’s class of ’64 was a blockbuster class athletically, particularly when compared to the following year’s class, i.e., mine.  The guys in his class were considerably larger than those in the class of  ‘65 – I can only conclude from this that there must have been a food shortage in Alex in the 50’s and the town made a collective decision to emphasize the feeding of the older kids in the name of species preservation (you will find similar patterns of behavior among birds and higher mammals).  Anyway, Paul went on to become an all-conference tackle for the Alexandria Cardinal football team.

But Paul wasn’t just about brawn.  In fact, the most impressive item in his high school resume was being named president of the state student council.  In that position, Paul was able to parlay a couple out-of-state convention trips – not bad for someone who was a self-described small town plumber’s kid.

Paul matriculated to Concordia College in Moorhead, from which he graduated in 1968 with a degree in elementary education.  He continued his football career at Concordia and was named to the all-conference team.  As a freshman, he played on the Cobbers’ national championship team.

Paul began his career as a 6th-grade teacher in Burnsville in 1968.  After teaching three years, he became the elementary school principal – the youngest principal in the state at age 25.  During this period, he found time to receive a Masters Degree in school administration from the University of Minnesota in 1971.  After eight years in Burnsville, he returned to Concordia for a year, before returning to K-12 education in Mounds View where he spent 18 years, ending as the director of operations.  He ended his career in Wayzata where he was the human relations director for nine years.

But enough about Paul.  Merry also had a distinguished career – 22 years as a teacher in Burnsville, plus she raised two sons (OK, Paul allegedly helped).  Theirs was a courtship that you only read about in . . . well, golf club newsletters.  They met at Concordia and got married two weeks after they graduated!  (Yes, I had the same thought – Merry obviously skipped several grades.)   Son Michael is 35 and played on a state championship football team for Burnsville – he and Chris have two sons, Jack, age 4, and Nick, age 2, and a baby girl is expected before this column hits the presses.  Son Scott is 33 and played hockey and was captain of the golf team at Burnsville – he claims to be a confirmed bachelor.

Upon his retirement, Paul whisked Merry, a big city girl from . . . The Cities, away from the bright lights to the lakeshores of Alexandria.  Merry appears to have made the transition with considerable help from quilting and golf.  Paul’s final claim to fame is that this summer he will compete in his 40th consecutive Resorters’ Tournament – this is believed to be the record unless someone can produce DNA evidence to the contrary.

As president, Paul wants to focus on membership, both active members and recruiting new members, and to give a sense of ownership about the club.  He hopes the arrival of this newsletter coincides with the opening of the 2009 AGC golf season!

[Editor’s note:  On December 3, 2008 over steaming cups of Caribou coffee, club president-elect Paul Donley tendered the position of editor of the Alexandria Golf Club newsletter, and I, Tom Obert, rather foolishly, accepted.  Mr. Donley made this offer in full recognition of my total lack of professional credentials and extreme penchant for silliness. [Dame Judi Dench (74) recently proclaimed, “I get sillier as I get older.”  A great woman.]  I accepted in full recognition that the position doesn’t pay much – somewhat less than six figures – but I will have the opportunity to negotiate performance bonuses if I should ever be awarded a Pulitzer Prize or a Nobel Prize for Literature. Of course, we both know that Paul, no fool he, solicited for an editor to relieve himself of the onerous task of the monthly president’s column.  I expect to do full investigative reporting on such issues as why do all old men have the same funny-looking swing and how do “mature” women play 18 holes of golf in less than two hours.  And I eagerly encourage input from the membership regarding stories for the newsletter.  The “publisher” has requested that this be fun.]

A PHOTO ALBUM

August 31, 2010 with Merry

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August 3, 2006 at the Resorters with his high school buddies Barry Bauer, John Fahlberg, and Darrell Maloney

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April 18, 2007 with fellow board members and superintendent Donnacha O’Connor checking the course

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October 24, 2007

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April 16, 2008

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April 18, 2008

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April 16, 2009 first round of the year

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June 13, 2009 at Cardinal Athletic Foundation tournament

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August 22, 2009 club championship

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June 16, 2012 Cardinal Athletic Foundation tournament with Dave Dittberner and Dave Rogosheske

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August 28, 2012 at the Tuesday Senior League steak fry with Karin and Dave Berg

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When he joined the “zipper” club

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July 17, 2012

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With school superintendent Terry Quist when he was named to the Education Foundation Board as, I believe, executive director

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March 31, 2013 in the buffet line with the Super at the club

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4 Responses to Paul Donley

  1. G. says:

    Nice tribute to Paul. He really was a very, very nice man.

  2. Jim and Sara Sevey says:

    Merry and Karen, we are thinking of you and your family.

  3. tomobert63 says:

    Postscript after thoughts: I remember Paul as already being an adult in high a school. He was a BMOC. But he never acted like a BMOC because he was Paul. I was just a pimply-faced kid a year younger. When I really got to know him better after we had both retired back to Alex, I recalled the same thing I remembered from high school – in Paul’s perpetual tone and demeanor I thought, so this is what gravitas means. Another thought I recalled during dinner at the club tonight. Paul and I were sitting in a golf cart above the 4th green during the Resorters one year, watching hot shot golfer after hot shot golfer put their ball above the pin on the green . . . and then putting totally off the green, staring and mumbling in dismay. Of course, we course members knew all about that. After about five groups went through we decided to leave – Paul said it was because it was like watching puppies drown.

  4. Nancy Syverson says:

    Very nice tribute to a wonderful man and his family. Please keep us informed of plans for a celebration of his life.

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