I am proud to say I knew him, proud to say he influenced me as I was growing up. He was a friend and classmate of my dad’s. Paul Carlson passed away on August 19, 2008. He was a conservative activist and a longtime resident of Park Ridge. My dad said no other Maine East alumni attended his funeral except him, which is a shame. He had a very short battle with pancreatic cancer, from what I gather they had to stop chemo because he got an infection, and after they stopped cancer treatment, the cancer went wild, spread into his bones, etc. May God bless this wonderful man and his family.
Paul Carlson, in fact, was Hillary Clinton’s history teacher at Maine East High School. (And he is one of the people who inspired my own politics, outside of my father, Tedis Zerins, Reverend Wurmbrand and others.) From Growing Up Rodham at the Washington Post:
By ninth grade at Maine Township High, she was on every virtually committee in the student government and was enthralled by a fiercely anti-communist history teacher named Paul Carlson. Schoolmate John Peavoy recalls that during the 1960 presidential election, 30 students were assigned to watch the Kennedy-Nixon debate. All but two, “a couple of oddballs,” declared themselves Nixon supporters. (When Nixon lost, Hugh was convinced that Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley stole the election for Kennedy, and Hillary rode a bus downtown to check for fraudulent voter addresses.)
It was Carlson who gave Hillary a copy of Barry Goldwater’s “The Conscience of a Conservative,” and she consumed it, struck by the javelin-like power of sentences such as “The Conservative looks upon politics as the art of achieving the maximum amount of freedom for individuals that is consistent with the maintenance of social order.” She wrote a 75-page term paper on it.
Carlson was her unchallenged mentor until a day in 1961 when Don Jones blew into town, in a red Chevy Impala convertible.
Don Jones was a socialist methodist minister at the First Methodist Church in Park Ridge (where I went to Sunday School; our family left the church because of the social doctrine that crept in). From Hillary’s book:
Don once remarked that he and Mr. Carlson were locked in a battled for my mind and soul. Their conflict was broader than that, however, and came to a head in our church, where Paul was also a member. Paul disagreed with Don’s priorities, including the University of Life curriculum, and pushed for Don’s removal from the church. After numerous confrontations, Don decided to leave First Methodist after only two years for a teaching position at Drew University, where he recently retired as Professor Emeritus of Social Ethics.
Later, she became a hard core leftist activist with Tommy the Commie as her mentor at Yale, and worked as a student activist to-among other things-free The New Haven Nine.
Teacher Paul Carlson – who died Aug. 19 – stood beside his photograph in Maine East’s Wall of Honor in 2007, next to his former student, U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, shortly before retiring after a 50-year career. (Rene Edde/for Pioneer Press)
His life was one well lived by the effect he had on those around him…his students, friends and family are a true legacy never to be forgotten. He will be sorely missed and I was graced to know him and call him my friend .
R. Paul Carlson, age 73, a lifelong resident of Park Ridge, a devoted and dedicated teacher for 50 years at Maine East High School, at home with his Lord Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2008, beloved husband of Nancy; loving father of Thomas (Nancy) and Robert (Marcy) Patterson; beloved son of the late Walter and Eunice; cherished grandfather of David, Adam, Katie, Leah and Caroline; dear brother of Joyce Smith and Phyllis Allman; fond uncle, great-uncle and cherished friend to many. Visitation Thursday 3 to 9 p.m. at the Nelson Funeral Home, 820 Talcott Rd. (at Cumberland), Park Ridge. Family and friends will meet Friday from 9 a.m. until time of Funeral Service 10 a.m. at The Park Ridge Presbyterian Church. A Memorial Service for Paul will be held on Sunday, Sept. 7, 2008 at 3 p.m. at The Park Ridge Presbyterian Church, 847-823-4135, 1300 W. Crescent Ave. (2 Blks south of Touhy 1 Blk west of Greenwood). Should friends desire, memorials in Paul’s name can be made to Wounded Heros Foundation Inc., Two Prudential Plaza, 180 N. Stetson Ave., Suite 4525, Chicago, IL, 60601 or Season’s Hospice, 606 Potter Rd., Des Plaines, IL, 60016. Info: 847-823-5122 or http://www.nelsonfunerals.com
“He was one of the best guys Park Ridge has every [sic] produced,” said Friel. “He was a great man.”
Carlson, known as a staunch Republican, was friends with many followers of local and national politics including many Democrats. He was a teacher and friend to Hilary Rodham Clinton when she lived with her family in Park Ridge in the 1960s. He also taught former state representative Penny Pullen who grew up in Park Ridge.
Last year, Carlson was honored for his 50 years of teaching at Maine East with a large reception attended by hundreds of friends and well-wishers. He taught history and government at Maine East. He retired from teaching in June of 2007. Besides his teaching, Carlson was a member of the Park Ridge Morning Kiwanis Club.
He was also a longstanding member of the Park Ridge Historical Society.
Sign the guestbook that was attached to his Chicago Trib Obit.
There will be a memorial service for him in December – I think the date I heard was December 7. I’ll update this post with more detail as I get it.
Supposedly Hillary might attend.