Dr. Theodore Paul Jr., a long time resident of Mankato and an icon in Minnesota theatre, died peacefully on Monday, July 14, 2008 at Mankato House Health Care Center.
A Celebration of Life will be held at 2:00 p.m., Saturday, September 13, 2008 at the Ted Paul Theatre, Minnesota State University, Mankato. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Ted and Katy Paul Scholarship Fund at Minnesota State University-Mankato would be preferred. Mankato Mortuary assisted with arrangements.
Known by his friends, colleagues, and students as “Doc”, he guided the theatre department at Minnesota State University-Mankato into national prominence during his 35 year tenure.
He was born November 6, 1915 in Tarkio, Missouri, graduating from Tarkio High School in 1933, where he played trumpet and sang in the school glee club, as well as acting in a number of high school plays. Following high school, he went on to get his BA degree from Tarkio College; he then worked in the Civilian Conservation Camp from 1934 to 1937. Doc moved to Benedict, Nebraska, where he taught high school English from 1937 to 1938. After his brief teaching assignment, he moved to Greeley, Colorado, where he did summer stock with “Little Theatre of The Rockies”. He received an M.A. degree in English Literature in 1939 from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. He then traveled to New York City, as so many do to this day, to become an actor. There he auditioned for Lynn Fontanne and read for Herman Shumlin, Elia Kazan, and Maxwell Anderson, only to have the roles go to Montgomery Cliff. Doc also worked as an NBC Page where he met a young Gregory Peck who was leading guided tours through the RCA buildings in 1940. Following a brief stint working for McDonnell Aircraft in St. Louis, Missouri, making tail sections for DC-6's, Doc signed up for the U.S. Merchant Marine and went to Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY, where he said he “learned the fine art of cleaning toilets before learning to steer ships”.
In March of 1943 he made what he felt was the single smartest decision he had ever made by marrying Katy Carpenter, who until her death in 1985 was his best friend and soul mate. While Doc was at sea in 1945, Katy gave birth to their first child, Helen. With the war over, Doc accepted a full time position at the University of Iowa where he received his PhD. While at Iowa his second child, Eric, was born in 1949. In September of 1950, he accepted a position of Assistant Professor of Speech and Director of Theatre at Mankato State Teachers College, now Minnesota State University-Mankato. Doc believes he got the job because the President of the college at that time said of him, “you are the least objectionable theatre person I have ever met.” Becky, the final of his three children, was born in 1952. After retiring from teaching in 1985, he continued to direct another 15 shows over the course of the next nine years. Katy was physically unable to attend the ceremony naming the theatre, Ted Paul Theatre, but lived long enough to see a video prior to her death June 14, 1985. During his thirty plus years at MSU, Doc Paul directed more than 125 plays of all disciplines: drama, comedy, musicals, and opera. In addition he directed productions for Loyola High School, Good Council Academy, Mankato Community Theatre, and for Arkansas University, the summer he was a guest lecturer. He took Mankato students on two USO tours, the first in 1963 on an eight week trip to Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Guam, and the Philippines. The second trip in 1969 was to Nova Scotia, Labrador, Greenland, and Iceland. Many of his students went on to continue in education and theatre, including Lou Bellamy, founder of the Penumbra Theatre in Minneapolis. With the help of his friend and colleague, Burt Meisel, he planned the specs for what would become the Ted Paul Theatre.
He is survived by his three children, Eric (Annie) Paul of Shorewood, Helen (Jack) Fashbaugh of Ironwood, MI, and Becky Lockwood of Milwaukee, WI; nine grandchildren and three great grandchildren; a brother, John (Margaret) Paul Phoenix, AZ. He was preceded in death by parents, Theodore and Myrtle Paul; brother, Curt Paul; sisters, Rebekah Azar and Ann Dean.