Service and devotion
Remembering Paul Persons
Chico lost a good friend last week when local attorney and Chico State University political-science professor Paul Persons died at the age of 55. Paul is survived and mourned by his wife, Marcia Briggs, and his two children—not to mention the environmental community, the peace and justice community, his fellow faculty members, the homeless and prisoners of the area and everyone who knew him.
I first met Paul on a whitewater rafting trip on the Rogue River. My immediate impression was this is a guy who has his act together. On a river trip, there are many details to be thought of before embarking, items of necessity and some things that just make the trip more comfortable and fun. Whatever was needed, Paul seemed to have brought—and then some. He felt like our de-facto leader.
Paul was a big man, strong, vibrant, quiet and capable. I had the feeling he could eat or drink all of us under the table and still be the first guy up in the morning rigging the boats. He had a razor-sharp intellect and was a fountain of information, whether talking about the river, the environment or legal matters pertaining to just about anything.
It seemed fitting that while the rest of us were in kayaks, playing in the rapids and eddies, Paul was rowing the oar boat carrying all the supplies. One bad decision by him and our trip was a nightmare. I think we all felt secure knowing Paul was at the helm, quietly and efficiently taking care of things.Back in Chico, Paul was a tireless advocate for the environment, peace and justice issues and, perhaps first and foremost, the powerless—prisoners and the homeless. He was legal counsel for an array of organizations and causes, always there not only for advice, but also participation.
Three things that stand out from my time with Paul are his passion for his work, his enjoyment of flying his airplane and running rivers, and his deep love for his wife and family. There are some people who seem to effortlessly live lives of service and devotion to family and friends. Lives with deep meaning and purpose, and lives of curiosity, adventure and fun. Paul embodied all of this. He will be missed.