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Wednesday, July 20, 2011
PAUL RUSSELL CANAVAN 9-23-49 - 7-14-2011
(l to r Dave Beardsley, Eileen Beardsley, standing Bob O'Neill, me and Paul)
I'm pretty sure that this picture taken at Bob O'Neill's 65th birthday party in February, 2011 is the last photo of me and Paul together, and I also believe the last picture of Paul.
Paul was born at Josephine Heitkamp Memorial Hospital, on South Grand and lived all his life before college in South St. Louis City, in a big old home on Lafayette Avenue. He was a 1968 graduate of Southwest High School and attended Wade Elementary School. It always amazes me the times one of us would connect up with someone in his class or a close one and would remember him from wrestling or something; just like we KHS65s find one another in situations we don't expect. After a couple of other scholastic adventures (NW MO State @ Maryville for one), Paul graduated with a BS in Biz Admin from the University of Houston, and did his stint in the Army and National Guard. Paul is survived by a son who adored him, Michael, a professional free-lance photographer living in downtown Chicago with his fiancee, Colleen, a darling girl of Irish heritage...imagine that! Paul's mother Jerry lives in a nursing home in Jefferson County and has now outlived both of her children, not what God normally has in mind for us. She is a real trooper, a stoic German lady who is also a Sappington. Paul was VERY excited to learn only a few years ago that he was a Sappington, a direct descendant of John & Jemima Sappington who came to MO from KY with Dan'l Boone and settled most of south St. Louis County. I plan to spread his ashes on John & Jemima's graves in the Sappington Cemetery in Crestwood on his birthday in September. I think he would like that more than any other idea we ever discussed. Paul had not been in good health of late, and there are a number of sudden fatal heart-attack deaths in the males in his family tree, and an uncle who died very young also. He had bought groceries, in this awful heat, come home, put them all away just as I liked, and sat down, probably to rest, and had the attack in our breakfast room. He was gone only part of an hour before I got home from an errand, and the paramedics told me that I probably couldn't have saved him even if I'd been here at home. Paul and I met as employees at Barnes Hospital in 1967 and were friends, then we and our spouses were a four-some as good pals, and our children were friends, then we were friends again, then we became lovers and partners. We were married in December, 1996 in Edinburgh, Scotland after having been "engaged" for 7 years or so - our accountant said we had to get married! We then didn't actually live together full-time until we bought a home together in 1998. It was odd the first time I brushed my teeth in the same bathroom with him after all those years!
The paramedic squad which answered my 911 call is with Metro West here in West County and some knew Gary Stobbe when he was a Manchester city fireman before the communities here in west county joined together as Metro West. Gary lived in the house right behind mine when Lou & I were divorced and I moved to Manchester with my children. AND the policewoman who came, and was SO nice to us, was the daughter in law of a jeweler here in West County who went to high school with my ex, and from whom I bought our wedding rings when Paul & I got married. It was like old home week here as the paramedics and then the attendants from Bopp took care of Paul. The representative from Bopp walked in the front door and said, "Aren't you part of the Cavic/Lombardi family?" My son smiled when everyone was gone and said, "Mom, Rachel and I cannot believe it, but you REALLY DO know everyone in St. Louis". We were able to have a smile together at a sad moment.
Should anyone wish to make a memorial donation in Paul's name, I am associated with a wonderful place for children from dysfunctional homes in New England. Donations might be sent to Ms. Gail Thomas, Treasurer General, NSNEW, 379 Chester Road, Candia, NH 03034-2609; please be sure to specify that the donation is in memory of Paul and is to go to Kurn Hattin Homes. Should you wish to learn about this wonderful place for children, which I have supported for many years, please go to www.kurnhattin.org, you'll fall in love.
Thank you to everyone who has called, sent cards, emailed and sent me greetings on Facebook; your friendship is always important to me, but at this time has been especially meaningful to me. May we all have our friends and families when we need them the most as I have had you all.