Paul R. Theroux
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Paul R. Theroux
  • December 15, 1922 - July 17, 2017
  • Belleair, Florida

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Born in Ithaca, N.Y. and raised in Florida, Indiana and Michigan, Paul Richard Theroux was the son of longtime Michigan State University civil engineering professor Frank R. Theroux. Paul was one of six brothers and a sister who became the largest single family ever to all earn degrees from that school. Paul’s was in chemical engineering.



Paul’ college career – along with his budding romance with a high school sweetheart – were both interrupted when he joined the Army Air Force as a navigator and served in the South Pacific during World War II.



While home one year on Christmas leave, Paul offered his bus seat to a different young woman, Marjorie Withrow. When the seat next to hers opened up, Paul sat down – so engrossed that he missed his own bus stop. Instead, Paul got off at Marjorie’s several miles down the line and walked her to her parents’ house. By the time Marjorie agreed to a date the next night, the busses were no longer running. Paul then had to hike all the way home but didn’t mind. In fact, on the way, he leapfrogged over several fire hydrants.



After his discharge, Paul and Marjorie, a kindergarden teacher, married in 1947. Two years later their first child, David, was born, followed by Gary in 1951 and Linda in 1954.



In a 1960 interview, Paul indicated that his great interest were 8mm home movie photography, folk music (Burl Ives, Jimmie Rodgers, etc.) and tennis. The latter sport was one his father had taught all seven of his children. Paul turned out to be quite the lifelong champion, routinely, in his later years, defeating opponents half his age. Folks would say, “He’s got an old head and a young body.”



Another great interest was public speaking. Paul became a longtime member and eventually held executive positions with the Toastmasters organization.



Once married, Paul took what he thought would be a temporary job in the insurance industry. That move turned into a career -- as his top-notch work resulted in Paul being hired away by one insurance firm after another. Eventually he became an Executive Vice President of Industrial Underwriting at State Farm. All of those advancements meant frequent moves for the Theroux family, including stops in Westfield, NJ, Armonk, NY, New Canaan, CT and Bloomington, IL.



Paul and Marjorie’s longtime dream, once he retired, was to rent a motor home and drive around the country. However, just as he retired, Marjorie died of cancer.



A few years earlier, the couple had attended Paul’s 50th high school reunion – and at it they ran into Jackie Windahl, Paul’s former high school sweetheart, along with her husband, Everett, who died soon after. When Marjorie learned that her cancer was terminal, she suggested that, after her passing, the love of her life reconnect with Jackie. Marjorie died in 1987 and in 1990 Paul and Jackie were married. Paul got to spend 40 years with Marjorie and 20 with Jackie, who passed away in 2010.



Paul Richard Theroux's book, "Q-23: A Novel of Espionage and Racqueteering," was endorsed by his cousin, best-selling novelist Paul E. Theroux, and is available from Liberty Tree Press.