Robert Paul Sheets was born on June 2, 1943 to Zelda Sue Sheets and Robert Donald Sheets in Oilton, Oklahoma. Paul was fond of saying, “There were two major events that happened in 1943. One was the battle of the bulge and the other was me.”
Anyone who knew Paul knew he was an avid reader and possessed a brain that could hold a seemingly limitless amount of information. He was reciting works of Rudyard Kipling to his family at a very early age, and his love of Kipling and skill as an orator are two of his many memorable traits. As a young man in junior high school he played the trombone (a skill that, with his encouragement, I later took up) and in high school he was active on the debate team, an assistant basketball coach, a member of the ROTC, and in the Slide Rule Club. Growing up, Paul was overall a good kid. His mother Zelda recalls she was only called into school twice for Paul; once in Junior High, when Paul got into a fight defending another kid from a bully, and the last week of his Senior year, when Paul and a group a his friends decided to violate dress code and wear shorts to school. In 1961 he graduated from Waukegan High School in Waukegan, Illinois.
After graduating, Paul worked at Sears and Roebuck and began attending school at Lake Forest College outside of Chicago. In his Sophmore year, Paul accompanied one of his friends to the mailroom where they met two young women. Paul’s companion knew one of them, and left with her. Paul then politely offered to walk the remaining girl back to her dorm room. Her name was Andrea Tyler, and she and Paul would later be married in June 1966. They were married for 31 years, until Andrea passed away in February 1998. Paul enlisted in the United States Army, and for several years he and Andrea lived in Belgium when he was stationed at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE). They enjoyed living in Europe so much that, after his first term of service, Paul decided to reenlist. He was then sent on several missions to Vietnam. Paul and Andrea returned to the United States in 1968, where spent two years in Atlanta, Georgia until Paul was released from service.
Paul settled in Portland, Oregon; a city that he loved and where he spent most of his life. He worked briefly in the Clackamas County Sheriff’s office as a deputy, then as an investigator for the State of Oregon until he retired in 1999. In addition, he returned to college on the G.I Bill, and went on to complete his Bachelor Degree and receive a Masters of Science in Criminal Justice from University of Portland. In November 1974, Paul and Andrea had a daughter they named Lavinia, after Andrea’s Great grandmother. And, to be blunt, my Papa was an exceptionally wonderful father. I could go on and on and on about what an amazing parent he was, but in the interest of time I’ll say this -The love and generosity and wisdom and humor I’m certain all of you here have experienced from Paul he gave completely and unreservedly as a father. And I will always feel fortunate and proud that Paul was my Papa.
After losing Andrea, Paul knew he had to keep on living, but he didn’t want to do it alone. So at age 54, he bravely returned to the brutal world of dating. Through the modern technology of online match making, Paul met a very promising candidate for future wife; an addiction counselor in White Salmon, Washington named Karen Wilkens. Early in their courtship, Paul and Karen took a trip to the Oregon Coast together and, according to Paul, the words asking Karen to marry him came out of his mouth before he was even aware of them. Paul and Karen were married on September 18, 2000, and spent 11 happily married years together.
Worshipful Brother Paul was extremely active in the Masonic Lodge. He was a Past Master of Friendship Lodge #160 and Columbia Lodge #114 A.F. & A.M, and was active in the Oregon Scottish Rite. He was a devoted leader in the Masonic Youth Groups, and spent many years serving as Rainbow Dad for Martha Washington Assembly #1. Through the Masons, Paul formed many lifelong friendships such that the Lodge was like a second family to Paul. Paul was also a devout Christian. He was an elder for many years at Beavercreek Christian Church, and later joined the community of Saints Peter and Paul Episcopal Church.
Paul was a talented singer and a natural comedian. He would frequently serenade his family and friends with silly songs ranging from Tom Lehrer to Gilbert & Sullivan. He loved science fiction and fantasy, good food, cartoons, the Oregon Coast, port, and cats. He was exceedingly generous, and possessed genuine warmth and kindness. My aunt Carol, Paul’s sister, recently aptly described Paul as “harrumph, with a marshmellow center”.
Dear Paul - son, husband, uncle, father, grandfather, brother, friend. We are all so fortunate that you were a part of our lives. I hope you know how much you are loved, and how very much you are missed.