The Heart of Kernersville: Paul Skotcher

By NJ Clausen

Isn’t it wonderful to know someone who always seems to have a smile and a kind word for those around them? I would like to introduce you to one of those people…Paul Skotcher.

The youngest of three children, Paul was born in Detroit, Michigan ten years after his youngest older sibling. Although some of his favorite childhood memories included walking to the nearby Detroit River where he would meet friends and spend the day fishing, Paul’s voice took on a special loving tone as he described ice fishing with his dad. At Lake St. Clair, they would chop a hole in the ice (which was about a foot thick!) with a tool that was like a giant chisel. In the beginning, they did not have any structure around them, they just sat around the hole and fished. In later years, Paul’s father built a frame out of pipes and his mother sewed a canvas covering… a welcome change from sitting out on the ice where the winds blew cold with nothing other than many layers of clothing to block them!

Paul also enjoyed camping with his parents. The first tent he remembers had no floor; it was an old Army tent that looked like a house and was VERY heavy. His ingenious father created the frame for this structure, too. During the warmer months, they would go camping in Port Austin together. Paul remembers when he and his dad realized the dream of camping in the wintertime, which included cleaning snow from the area. No creatures came to visit, but the Park Ranger did come by to make sure that they were okay.

Following high school, Paul went to RETS (Radio Electronic Television Schools) which was a 2-year program. As he was graduating, people from Western Electric in Winston-Salem came up and interviewed those people who were interested in working with them. Shortly after, they sent a notice to Paul that he had a job and that is when he moved to North Carolina. For two years he was with Western Electric working in the Research and Development department. The second year was spent in New Mexico before he was drafted into the Army and had to return to Michigan where he had registered. While there, Paul and his high school sweetheart Kathleen became engaged. Paul became one of the most popular men in his unit as Kathleen would send homemade treats which Paul would share.

Sent to South Vietnam, Paul refueled helicopters and airplanes with the aviation support unit. With portable pumps, they would pump the fuel from drum barrels into the transport. Another job Paul would perform was at the ammunition dump where he would bring the cargo to the crew chief and, once there, would screw a warhead onto a rocket.

The month after his return, Paul and Kathleen were married in Michigan with three priests attending. After the wedding, Paul returned to work with Western Electric and they moved to Winston-Salem, prior to relocating to Greensboro. Just before they were to be transferred to New Jersey, Paul accepted a position at the Kernersville Post Office. As they considered it practical to live where working, the family made the move to Kernersville in 1973. One of the reasons Kernersville was so appealing was the ‘country living’ feel. Paul remembers how his parents loved watching the geese come up from the pond into the backyard. All their kids were involved in athletic activities, and spending time at all the different events are some of Paul’s cherished memories. Travel has always been a great joy, and events have taken them to many different locations in several states. After 4 of their 5 children had moved on to places of their own, Paul’s parents moved in with them when living on their own in Montgomery County became too difficult. Though they are now deceased, Paul is grateful that they had the time together.

When asked what brings him happiness, Paul responded, “My family.” He describes Kathleen as a great wife, and his children as good people, good citizens, and helpful. Paul added that as all family members are hardworking, it is a special joy when everyone gathers and they get to spend time together. Paul feels so very blessed, and so lucky.

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