Paul Edward Burkholder, age 88, was born April 24, 1925 and passed peacefully at his Mountain Meadows home in the company of his family November 18, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. Paul was born in Decatur, Ill. and grew up there. His family owned and operated Burkholder's Sunshine Dairy, where he worked both as a soda jerk, as well as a milk deliveryman in the wee hours, traveling by horse-drawn wagon. Because of his duties, or perhaps in spite of them, he never lost his love of chocolate ice cream.
On February 8, 1945, when he was 19, he married the love of his life, Myrl, also 19. Just three short days later, he left to join the U.S. Navy to serve in WW II as a signalman on a Liberty ship in the Pacific theater. He enjoyed his time at sea, including surviving a typhoon that hit the Philippines, an event he weathered on the ship's bridge and which he described as an interesting experience. That equanimity and curiosity about all things characterized his entire life.
Upon returning stateside in January, 1946, he got to know his daughter, Pam, who was born in November of 1945, and worked at the dairy until he was called back into service for the Korean War in 1950. In 1952, Myrl, Pam, and Paul moved to Champaign, Ill. where he attended the University of Illinois on the GI Bill.
Upon graduation, his first job as a systems and procedures analyst took the family to Niles, Mich. (13 miles North of South Bend, Ind.) where his son, Bill, was born in 1955. The family moved to Greensboro, N.C. in 1960, and then to Greenville, S.C. in 1967, while Paul worked in the textile industry.
Paul's job as an efficiency expert was perfect for him. Figuring out how to do something better was the easy part. But the artistry of his job was in the implementation. He was born with a soft touch, the ability to listen, to observe, to incorporate what was working into a new system and then to teach people how to embrace the value and idea of change.
While Paul was a man who truly enjoyed his work, he was happy to retire to Ashland, Ore. in 1991. He often remarked, If you step into the shade, you could get cooler. He and Myrl bought a house on Granite street; the back yard adjoined Pam, Gary and Abbey's house on Pine Street. Paul and Myrl were active members of the Unitarian Fellowship, having joined in South Carolina, and made many friends in the Ashland community.
Paul was a kind, patient, self-sufficient gentle-man who enjoyed whatever life brought him. A handsome man in his youth, he was often described as cute and adorable in his 80's. He was a great role model who was devoted to his family and who always tried and managed to do the right thing. He never complained, and was quietly courageous to the end. This November, his wonderful heart just finally gave out.
He enjoyed the game of golf throughout his long life, which his father taught him to play at age 10. He shot his last nine holes in June of this year. He also played bridge for many years with Myrl, who was quite good at it (and toward the end of his life, he thought he'd finally gotten the hang of it). He was a delightful storyteller, often entertaining family and friends with old favorites as well as regularly surprising all of us (including Myrl) with a new one. When he talked about his past, his memories truly came alive.
His loving care of Myrl during the last few years of her life is one example of the consideration and selflessness he showed to everyone he met. He taught his children that actions speak louder than words, and his always did.
Paul is survived by his daughter, Pam Burkholder Turner and son-in-law, Gary Turner of Ashland, Oregon and granddaughter, Abigail Burkholder Turner of Austin, Texas; his son, William Curtis Burkholder, daughter-in-law, Lynda Smith, and grandchildren, Jay, Trevor, and Leigh of Charlotte, N.C. He was preceded in death by his infant brother, William; his brother, Eugene; and his parents, Jesse and Nellie.
A Celebration of his life will be held at 1:30 p.m. Monday, December 23, 2013 at the Unitarian Universal Fellowship, 4th and C in Ashland. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Ashland Community Hospital Foundation Hospice fund.