Paul Green — one of Westport’s most beloved and inspirational citizens — died yesterday. He was 94.
More than 6 years ago, I chronicled Paul’s long — and strong — battle against a deadly disease. He continued fighting long after those words appeared. I wrote:
Nineteen years ago, Paul Green was diagnosed with Parkinson’s.
His 1st reaction was to fight back.
His 2nd was to figure out how.
His 3rd was to apply what he’d learned: that movement like exercise and dance can slow the progression of that torturous disease.
Last night at the Saugatuck Rowing Club, Paul — 88 years young — was the star attraction. A video highlighting his avid, ongoing work was shown. It serves 2 purposes: educating Parkinson’s patients about the benefits of exercise, and raising funds for a foundation Paul started.
The non-profit is called Nevah Surrendah to Parkinson’s. The name honors Paul’s always-optimistic attitude — and pays homage to his hero Winston Churchill’s legendary exhortation. (And his accent. Paul also pronounces it “nevah surrendah” — he’s from Boston.)
The site was perfect. Rowing is one of the many activities that keeps Paul’s Parkinson’s in check. The Saugatuck club has been his home away from his Old Mill home for years.
The rowing community is a close and very friendly one. Paul is one of its true idols — and a real favorite. (Particularly with the ladies.)
Last summer, the Saugatuck Rowing Club was the site of another tribute to Paul, and his Nevah Surrendah foundation. Scenes from that event — and a July dance-and-exercise session at the Senior Center — have been incorporated into the compelling video that premiered last night.
The video begins with scenes of reggae artist Mystic Bowie and Zumba instructor Eddie Calle leading at the Senior Center. The music is infectious; the smiles are heartfelt, and the scenes of older men and women — some with caretakers, others with grandchildren — moving slowly but rhythmically to the sounds of ska are inspiring.
Paul hopes that the video will show others with Parkinson’s — or any movement disorder — how to exercise for improved balance, a positive attitude and a healthy lifestyle.
And as he’s done for nearly 2 decades, he’s helping others thrive.
“Paul is such an inspiration,” one of the rowers interviewed on the video says. “We think we’re working hard. Then we see him out on the water — with such a smile on his face!”
The same smile he wore all last night, as he greeted and danced his way through a throng of family members, friends and fans.