Born in Brockton, MA on April 24, 1941, Paul was the youngest of four children. When he was in kindergarten, his father, Rev. Harry S. Carlson received a calling to Faith Lutheran in Summit, NJ. Harry, Dorothea, Ted, Dave, Ruth and Paul settled into the parish house just down the road from Overlook hospital.
Paul shared lots of memories of growing up in Summit. There were bike rides to the Watchung Reservation, camping with the scouts, and row boating with his mother. He made friends with the rabbits kept by the hospital for the obstetrics ward. He fought epic battles with briar switches. He seemed to have gotten into a lot of the small-town troubles a boy gets into when the entire town knows your father!
As a sophomore in high school, Paul noticed a new girl in his homeroom. After watching from afar for quite a while, Paul finally got up the nerve to ask her out. Willa refused, but Paul persisted. Eventually, they started going steady.
During high school, Paul thought he might like to be a gym teacher and upon graduation, went off to Springfield College. In 1961, Paul felt a calling to enlist in the Navy. Paul was stationed in San Diego and often spent his leave time visiting his cousin, John Steen, John’s wife Fran and their two daughters Jan and Molly. His tour of duty was spent in the South Pacific, stopping at Guam, the Philippines, and Japan before finally embarking to the Gulf of Tonkin, Vietnam.
Upon his discharge, Paul returned to New Providence, NJ. On November 20, 1965, he married his high school sweetheart, Willa Spurgeon. His father was the officiant. They honeymooned in Montreal.
Paul and Willa welcomed their daughter, Elizabeth in the summer of 1969, and their son, Erick in the spring of 1972. Paul enjoyed participating in the YMCA’s Indian Princesses and Guides program, going with his children to Camp Frost Valley for spring and winter weekends. Later, he would volunteer for camping trips with the Boy and Girl Scouts.
One of Paul’s passions was service to others. In 1977, he became a probationary member of the Chatham Township Volunteer Fire Department, then known as Long Hill Company #1. During his 45 years with the department, Paul served as a lieutenant, captain, and finally, a safety officer. He was a member of numerous committees and a regular behind the cash register during their annual Christmas tree sale. As much as Paul loved being a firefighter, he loved even more, sharing that passion with all his nieces and nephews and eventually their children.
On January 18, 2023, Paul succumbed, peacefully and with his wife and children, to several health complications. Paul deeply loved his immediate and extended family!
He is survived by his brother Ted’s wife Elaine, their three children Eunice, Nate, and Dan, and their children. He is survived by the children of his brother Dave and sister-in-law Lee, Debbie and Melissa, and Debbie’s children. He is also survived by his sister Ruth, her daughters, Alice and Carlene, and Alice’s children. He is survived by his cousins Carol and Herbie. On his wife’s side, Paul is survived by his sister-in-law Dorothy and her children Andrea and William. He is also survived by his sister-in-law Peggy and her former husband Tom, their daughters Lauren and Jen, and their children. Paul loved his wife’s cousins and their spouses, their children and grandchildren!
Paul is survived by his daughter, Elizabeth and his son and daughter-in-law, Erick and Wendy and his granddaughters Renee and Heather.
Most importantly, Paul is survived by the ONE and ONLY LOVE of his life, his wife of 57 years, Willa Hammond Spurgeon Carlson.