Paul Gothard III. Music Professor, teacher of Critical Thinking, of the Fine Arts, lover of philosophy, fishing and hunting, flying, motorcycles and Studebakers.
What a journey. Born of Hungarian heritage, Paul is stubborn, courageous, and loving. He grew up in Lyndhurst, Ohio where he graduated from Brush High School in 1969. He went on to graduate with a BFA in Piano from Lake Erie College in 1973, and received his Master of Music degree in Music Theory and Composition from Cleveland State University in the early 1980's.
His keyboard career started at a very young age on an accordion. One day after a lesson, his teacher followed Paul out to the car where his dad was waiting for him. The teacher leaned in through the window over Paul and said to Mr. Gothard, "Paul is doing really well! Before long, he'll be playing polkas!" No offense to polka-lovers, but Paul could not see himself playing the "Beer Barrel Polka", and asked for piano lessons on the way home from that final accordion lesson.
After a few years of lessons with a local piano teacher, the Gothard's piano tuner, Eugene Wizy, heard Paul playing and said that he should advance to another instructor. He suggested Dr. Harold Fink at Lake Erie College.
Although Dr. Fink did not take on children as students, he did take on two: Anthony Spiri and Paul. Paul was 10 years old when his experiences at Lake Erie College began. His lessons were in Dr. Fink's Office, which is now Paul's office/studio.
His love for Studebakers started in early high school when Paul's father managed to purchase the 1962 Studebaker Lark that paced the 1962 Indianapolis 500 race. That was Paul's car throughout high school, and what a "sleeper" it was! He has gone on to restore MANY Studebakers. We still have the engine and many parts from that original '62 pace car.
Paul's dream of flying became reality in 1977 when he obtained his private pilot's license. We had a very good family friend who was a WWII Air Force Colonel and test pilot. He was amazed at Paul's natural abilities in the airplane, and really wanted to get Paul a job flying. Paul flew many trips all over the United States, including one to the Zuni Indian Reservation in New Mexico.
But, alas, airplane fuel and insurance became too expensive and, like many former pilots, Paul took up motorcycle riding which most closely replicates the feeling of freedom he'd get when flying. He has loved being involved with the V-Twin Cruisers. What a great family!
Paul and his father & grandfathers took many fishing trips together: some were in Canada on the French River; others were in Florida fishing off of his grandparents' pier (the same pier where President John F. Kennedy and his family docked the HoneyFitz for Florida visits. His grandparents received special security clearance for it!) There were many hunting trips as well, which is how Paul learned his respect and appreciation for guns. He later became a really good gunsmith.
Paul started teaching at Lake Erie College shortly after he graduated in 1973. Dr. Fink asked him to come teach some piano students and a few courses, and Paul has been there ever since. He took over the LEC women's chorus from Dr. Fink in the late 1970's and has written many moving compositions for women's chorus, and now mixed chorus. His music has been known to move listeners to tears. It's unfortunate that Lake Erie College never saw in Paul what his peers saw, for he was never encouraged or supported to pursue having his compositions performed to wider audiences.
Having built the Music Department back to levels beyond the enrollment it had seen since the 1970's, the College Administration in recent years has systematically dismantled it piece by piece, first by not supporting ideas for program growth, then suddenly deciding to move the Music Department out of the lower part of the Music Building. The move was made during a spring break and Paul was instructed to help in the move. Students returned to having nearly no place to practice, and the two practice rooms that remained were being used for storage. The Administration even took away the Music Department's copy machine. The enrollment has dropped dramatically.
It has been very difficult for Paul's friends and peers to witness the carrying out of this Administration's apparent vendetta against Paul. No one knows why. Perhaps it's because Paul is passionate about what he does, has high standards and morals, and is a man of conviction and ethics. Perhaps he has intimidated someone. We just take comfort in what Dante called "The Divine Law of Retribution": What goes 'round, comes 'round...eventually.
I want to thank each and every one of you for all of your love and support during this journey through cancer, and beyond.
Paul & I read every guestbook entry. Paul was very moved and touched by all of your kind words and prayers. I, too, am moved, especially by your honesty, and the realization of how far-reaching his legacy is. I am grateful that he lives on in so many hearts, not just mine. This is what gives me strength as I take my first baby steps into widowhood.
Some of you know what I mean when I say that no one ever told me that grieving is so down-to-the-bone exhausting that I can't get out of bed. No one ever warned me about being extremely spacey and forgetful. I was never told that I would be paralyzed with fear and depression.
Nevertheless, thanks to all of your prayers and caring thoughts, I'm finding a way to put one foot in front of the other.... And for that I offer my deepest gratitude.