Paul Slater died peacefully on New Year’s Day, 2017, at Cooley Dickinson Hospital. He died as he wished, quickly and with no lingering illness, with his beloved wife of 68 years, Miriam, and his daughter, Margaret, at his side.
Paul was born in 1924 in Brooklyn, New York to Rachel and Isidore Slatoff. He prepared at New Utrecht High School, during years where he would roller skate to the Bronx Zoo, hang out at Coney Island, and tried to hitchhike to Florida for spring break, before being returned by what only could have been a very bemused truck driver in Virginia.
In 1942 at 18 he gave up his draft exempt job at the Brooklyn Navy Yard to volunteer to fight in WWII. Paul joined the Navy where he served aboard a destroyer escort from 1942-1946, rising to the rank of Chief Petty Officer. He survived multiple ocean crossings, and participated in the liberation of France, for which he received the Special Diplome from the French government in 2000.
At the war’s end Paul returned to Brooklyn, where he met and married Miriam, the love of his life. They had a long, good life together, moving from Brooklyn, to Long Island, then to an organic chicken farm in New Jersey while Miriam earned her PhD. They moved to western Massachusetts in 1971 where Miriam began her career at Hampshire College as the Master of Dakin House and Paul completed a BS in Natural Resource Studies and a Master’s in Regional Planning at UMass Amherst. He helped design and fund the program on Women in Agriculture, the New England Small Farm Institute and the Hampshire College Farm Center on Campus. The Farm Center continues to provide hands on and formal training for new generations of students who are learning to produce food free of chemicals and hormones in a sound and sustainable organic manner. Paul was instrumental in introducing the APR program in Massachusetts through which 70,000 acres of farmland have been preserved.
Paul found joy and beauty in life, whether grafting apples to a tree in the yard, planting and sharing his love of gingko trees, or learning to run an agility course with his beloved dog Stuffy. His children, Leo and Margaret adored him, as did his niece Shari, and his daughter-in-law, Eden. He in turn was enormously proud of their achievements. Paul had a wide circle of devoted and admiring friends in all walks of life. He was a feminist to his core and supported women’s equality well before the feminist movement.
Paul gave his time to the Veterans Education Project, where he spoke to local students about the horrors of war. He was also a regular volunteer at the VA hospital, where he shared his love of fluffy dogs with curly tails. Paul trained his last dog, Trish, to become an AKC Canine Good Citizen and then a Bright Spot Therapy Dog, a role in which she excelled.
While Paul always wrote poems to mark big occasions (Paul-mark cards - for those too chintzy to send the very best), we are confident he would appreciate donations to the Dakin Humane Society: https://www.dakinhumane.org/make-a-donation.html, the Northampton Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, NSPCA c/o Pamela B. Schumann, Treasurer, 76 Clark St. , Easthampton, MA 01027 or Soldier On at http://www/wesoldieron.org/donate/
A private memorial service is planned for later this year
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