I first met Paul on April 8th, 2004, in Room 124 of the Fine Arts Building at UAA. He was one of about 80 people who had come to hear me explain the context of what was then my newest musical work, The Skies are Weeping. Talking to Paul after what had been a disturbingly contentious public meeting, his voice and demeanor soothed me down from the infuriation I felt, from having to withdraw the upcoming performance of the work, because I felt fear for the safety of the students who wanted to perform it.There will be an open memorial service to celebrate his life and to remember him on August 21, 2011 at 1:30 pm at Fairview Community Center in the multipurpose room located at 1121 E. 10th Avenue in Anchorage.
We will be encouraging those who would like to speak to do so, please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to be added to the program.
In lieu of flowers or donations, the family asks for anyone who knew Paul to share a story or a memory about him, no matter how short or how long. We loved him very much and we know he touched many lives and we would greatly appreciate hearing them. You can post any pictures or thoughts at http://paulprebys.wikispaces.com/.
Our hearts are broken knowing how much pain he endured and we wish him peace. He is loved and will be missed greatly.
Paul told me that he was a member of Alaskans for Peace and Justice. He wanted me to meet members at their next meeting. Perhaps they could help get the work performed in Anchorage.
I went to the meeting and several others over the next few years. Paul was the heart and soul of this group of courageously contentious individuals. And, as before, his presence, voice and words themselves could calm people down in a remarkable way.
Since even before the onset of the ongoing series of wars, Paul was at every Anchorage area peace demonstration he could attend, no matter what the weather.
Here he is, manning a booth he set up for AK4P&J and several other activist groups at a demonstration at the Veterans Memorial on the Downtown Park Strip, in September 2005. That was the demonstration at which Diane Benson spoke out strongly against the U.S. Army "Stop Loss" policy that had just forced her son Latseen to return to Iraq after his active duty service as a paratrooper was over:
Here he is in the midst of a group of people, at a demonstration at the junction of Lake Otis and 36th, on January 28th, 2008. Paul needed a walker to get there, and sat down on a folding chair, as he stayed through the entire event, talking to bypassers in that soothing voice of his:
After the premiere of the Skies are Weeping in November 2005, Paul was one of the first people to whom I gave a recording of the performance. In early 2005, I dedicated my next large protest musical work, Two Rivers, to Paul Prebys, and to his longtime friend and colleague, Ruth Sheridan.
Sometimes, after I had written an article here at Progressive Alaska, or somewhere else, that Paul liked, he would call and thank me. For years, Paul would call in to Anchorage talk radio programs, both conservative and liberal ones, to raise a point, to try to educate somebody on an issue they didn't understand or had misrepresented.
Along with his family, close friends, and people he had worked with in over 30 years as an educator and specialist in education, Paul will be missed by the Alaskan peace and human rights communities.