Paul Edward Dessen, age 64, died January 4, 2011, of cancer. He died peacefully at home, surrounded by family and friends. He was a role model of optimistically living for the future despite a terminal illness.
Paul was born in Tacoma, Washington, on August 16, 1946, to Joseph Dessen and Helen Munsen Dessen. He grew up there and graduated from Clover Park High School in 1964 with his sights already set on becoming a high school English teacher and coach. He attended Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma and graduated in 1969 with a BA in Education. Paul later in 1974 earned a Master's Degree in Teaching from Lewis and Clark College.
Post-graduation, Paul promptly moved to Cleveland, Ohio, to begin his teaching and coaching career at West Technical High School. He met his wife Helen Schmeller there and they were married on August 21, 1970. They then moved to Oregon where Paul began his 30 years of service as a dedicated teacher, working at Newport, North Marion, Knappa and Astoria High Schools. The last 20 years of his career were spent at Astoria High School. He coached hundreds of student athletes in swimming, diving, cross country, football, baseball and basketball. After his retirement, Coach D kept going and completed his 40 year coaching career as an AHS volunteer. He took pride in being a teacher who helped students reach their true potential in and out of the classroom, teaching both English and valuable life lessons, with a photo of his late father always present on his desk at school.
Paul could often be found playing golf at the Gearhart Golf Links with his Men's Club friends, and his winnings always went to his granddaughter Rowan. Paul was a longtime lector at St. Mary's Catholic Church. He served as the Meet Director for the district swim meet for many years and was a SMART program volunteer. The highlight of Paul's coaching career was his 2010 induction into the Astoria High School Sports Hall of Fame, both as a coach and as a volunteer.
Paul is survived by his devoted wife of 40 years, Helen, as well as their two daughters Lisa Dessen-Ocañ a (Juan Carlos Ocañ a) of Portland and Laura Dessen (Jon Fay) of Astoria. The three lights of his life were his granddaughters, Rowan Fay, Maia Fay and Luz Elena Ocañ a. He is also survived by his beloved sister Judy Larson of Gig Harbor, WA, and his supportive in-laws: James Kumse of Columbus, OH, Frances (James) Moore of Medina, OH, Roberta (Thomas) Schmid of Downers Grove, IL, Laurie Berger of Sunbury, OH and Lynn (Patrick) Enright of Downers Grove, IL. He was the proud uncle, great-uncle and great-great uncle of 30 nieces and nephews. Paul was preceded in death by his parents, his older brother J. Mark Dessen, his sisters-in-law Beverly Dessen and Marguerite Ann Kumse, his brother-in-law R. Scott Berger, his nephews David Dessen and Jeffery Larson, and his niece Jennifer Cowcher.
Paul's funeral Mass will be held on Saturday, January 15, 10:30 am, at St. Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church, 1465 Grand Avenue in Astoria. The Mass will be followed by a reception in the parish hall and the interment will be at 2 pm at Ocean View Cemetery in Warrenton, OR. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: Astoria High School Athletics, St. MaryStar of the Sea Catholic Church or Lower Columbia Hospice.
Caldwell's Luce-Layton Mortuary in Astoria is in charge of the arrangements. An online? guest book can be signed at www.caldwellsmortuary.com