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ChapterGram: July 2013

Cherishing Time Spent With Paul

 

Trevor JanzBy Trevor Janz, EAA 656941
EAA Manager of Chapters and Eagle Flights

 

 

Paul Poberezny used to occasionally step into my office at EAA headquarters, often with grass clippings all over his jeans. I would ask him what he was up to and he would quickly reply, "There is a lot of grass to mow out there." Other times he would pop into a meeting just to say hello, and flash his signature thumbs-up. Right before the holiday break, Paul would stop by the office and wish individual staff members a merry Christmas and a happy New Year at their desks.

When I became manager of chapters this year, Jeff Skiles and I met with Paul at his office on Wednesday mornings. Paul had a guest book in his reception area and required that visitors sign in and out. And to always be on time.

I listened keenly when Paul spoke; I didn't want to miss any hints or advice. In my position, who better to learn from? I remember early on asking what he thought was the one thing I should do in my role as manager of chapters, and he did not hesitate. "Read every chapter newsletter, every month," he said. "It keeps your fingers on the pulse of the chapters."

Since that day, I've read every chapter newsletter and have gotten to know you, our chapter members, much better. Many of you also know that Paul continued to read all the newsletters sent to him as long as he could.

Paul also stressed how important strong leadership is to our chapters, which he referred to as "EAA churches in the field." During our visits, Paul would enjoy our briefing of the chapters that we had visited during our Grassroots Pilot Tours.

My longtime friend Mike Lotzer recently sent me a DVD with footage shot by his father from one of the first EAA conventions at Curtiss-Wright Field in Milwaukee. Mike said that Paul was the only person who could tell what year it was shot, so I set up a time to show it to him.

When I arrived at his office, he quickly made a batch of popcorn because: "To watch the movie we need popcorn," he said. As soon as I hit the play button, Paul said with a grin from ear to ear, "1954. That is definitely 1954." Then Paul began pointing out various people that helped with the event and shared some recollections from the second annual convention of the Experimental Aircraft Association.

I was very fortunate to be able to spend time with Paul over this past year. I know that this pales in comparison to many of you who knew him for many more years than I. Please share those stories with your chapter and other EAA members. I always enjoy talking with the members that help form this amazing organization and hearing about the early days. Keep telling those stories of Paul and keep EAA going forward.

I want to thank all the chapters that have printed memorials and stories on Paul in their September chapter newsletters. Many of our chapter members were able to get a photo with Paul this past convention and print them in their newsletters.

In Paul's own timeless words, "It's about the people."

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