Boyd Paul liked to play country music, but when it came to expressing himself, he didn’t dance around.
Snow Shoe’s longtime mayor could be counted on to give a blunt answer or opinion.
“He didn’t mince words,” said John Daughenbaugh, owner of the Daughenbaugh Funeral Home in Snow Shoe.
“You knew what side he was on as soon as he started to speak. He would say his piece, and that was it.”
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Paul, who died Sept. 18 at the age of 87, drew on his direct manner while helping lead civic organizations in town, including the Lions Club, Veterans of Foreign Wars post, fire company and park corporation.
He also started serving as borough mayor in 1982. After a six-year hiatus at the start of the last decade, he returned to office in 2005, winning re-election to his last term four years later as a registered Republican.
“I think he always looked after the Snow Shoe community,” said Bruce Houck, a Snow Shoe councilman. “It was kind of like his town.”
Bill Dudish, the Borough Council president, will become the acting mayor. Local Republican Party officials have until Friday to nominate a candidate for the Nov. 5 election ballot.
Whoever succeeds Paul will face the proverbial big shoes.
Born in 1926, Paul grew up in the Karthaus area and went on to serve in World War II as a Navy radioman in the Pacific theater.
Once home, he worked for a local coal company and then a hosiery mill before starting his own business, Boyd’s Body Shop, in Snow Shoe in the early 1950s. He retired a decade ago. For years, he supplemented his work with a government contract to deliver mail to U.S. Postal Service branches throughout the county.
A ham radio buff, expert antique car restorer and talented musician, Boyd also devoted his free time to community service.
For years he directed the Snow Shoe Park Corp., running the park committee and overseeing the growth of the park’s facilities and the annual preparation of the park grounds for the Snow Shoe Carnival. Each year, he even sold bundles of carnival tickets.
“If you needed to know anything about the park or the carnival, you went to Boyd,” Daughenbaugh said.
Jim Yost, a retired local teacher and former borough councilman, said the park was always Paul’s “baby.”
“The park is a better place for him working there,” Yost said.
But Paul’s dedication to the town, Yost said, came with a “strong personality” full of “strong opinions.”
“He could be a difficult person,” Yost said. “It was his way or the highway. He didn’t argue.”
“But it was for the good of everything. We disagreed once in a while, but usually he was thinking of the town and the area.”
Houck recalled Paul’s support for the successful grassroots campaign to revive the aging Mountaintop Area Pool in the park.
“We’re going to miss him,” said Houck, a pool association board member. “I always had pleasant dealings with him. When he understood what you wanted, he tried to help you any way he could.”
As mayor, Paul led an effort to create a fingerprinting program for identifying local children during emergencies.
He helped the borough’s youth another way one winter.
Upset by seeing small children struggle over steep snowbanks and uncleared sidewalks after they stepped off school buses, he took action.
He made several calls to the state Department of Transportation until it corrected its plowing. Clean winter sidewalks then became a pet issue. Every year afterward without fail, he urged town residents to do their required shoveling. If a reminder didn’t appear in local media by October, the borough secretary was sure to hear from him.
Fair is fair, though: He often took complaint calls at home. Some residents even dropped by to gripe in person.
Caring at home for his wife, Barbara, who died in January, kept Paul from some council meetings. A stroke earlier this year slowed him down further.
But days before his death, he drove himself to a meeting — still a voice for his town.
“He was Snow Shoe,” Daughenbaugh said. “A lot of people respected him.”