Remembering Paul Green

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.

Paul Green, hard at work at the Saugatuck Rowing Club.

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.

Paul Green, keeping active in the boathouse he loves.

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.

Interviews with Paul’s neurologist, Dr. Amy Knoor; his physical therapist, Tara Maroney and his chiropractor Dr. Joshua Lander prove that Paul has not only nevah surrendahed — he’s thrived.

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.

Paul Green and his son Peter.

12 responses to “Remembering Paul Green

  1. Goodbye Paul. You and Eleanor were such lovely neighbors.We’ll miss both or you! ~Tammy & Matt

  2. I had the honor of meeting Paul some years ago at a concert at the Rowing Club. My husband had just passed and he had Parkinson’s as well…….I remember thinking what an inspiration Paul was. My sincere condolences to his family.

  3. What a great attitude‼️RIP🙏

  4. I guess I met Paul when i met his youngest son Peter in Kindergarten at Bedford El. I’m 57 now. Through childhood and adulthood the Green’s homes have been a place of refuge for many. Paul never judged. He simply cared and loved.

  5. Paul will be sorely missed by his many, many friends and acquaintances. He was an incredible, larger-than-life personality. He and Eleanor opened their home and their hearts to everyone. May they RIP.

  6. A sad day. Paul was one of the all-time greats.

  7. Michael Pettee (Saint Paul)

    Oh we will miss Paul. His spirit, spunk, and pluck. My dad Mike Pettee and Paul rowed together as partners in a double for many years. One race they competed in comes to mind: the 2011 Masters National. The combined age of just the two them in that one shell was 170 years! They managed to take first that day, which is a testament to Paul’s determination and also to the narrow field of competitors, as not many octogenarians are as able to compete as were those men.

  8. Audrey Doniger

    He was a great man and I will miss seeing him at the Old Mill parking lot…His boys and my kids were very close friends growing up in Westport…they were always here or at the Greens…a sad day….love to all the Greenies…the dining room is still open here for you

  9. To celebrate Veterans’ Day, Paul and I have teamed up to convey reality to the eighth graders at Bedford Middle School. He was an inspiration not only to the students but to all of us.

  10. Joyce Barnhart

    I knew Paul through Norwalk Hospital when he volunteered in the Emergency Department. He kept his good humour throughout his service; he said he finally had to quit because his Parkinson’s Disease had advanced so far that people couldn’t tell if he was a volunteer or a patient.

  11. Edith C Perlwitz

    I first saw Paul peeping through Joanne deBerg’s ballet window 15 minutes before class was over in 1975. Having studied ballet with his daughter Kathy I never thought he would someday be married to my brother’s wife Ellen Craig’s mother Eleanor and we would be family. I saw Paul at family gatherings and felt his battle. I became stronger to see him Never Surrender as he coined the phrase… And as he always had loving family around him he was able to endure. I know we all feel the loss. My love and condolences to his immediate chilldren.

  12. My wife and I took dance lessons for a couple of years at the Ballroom Elegance Dance Studio in town. Most of us were taking private lessons, but Vladimir and Irina – the Studio’s owners – three of four times a year brought together for recitals as many of their students who could muster the nerve. Paul Green and his wife were also taking lessons there, and they started showing up at these events. I had no idea who Paul was at the time, but I experienced him as a warm and gracious man who was entirely open about his Parkinson’s. We were all amazed at the courage he showed by performing in front of an audience despite his affliction, which was already pretty far along at the time. I was to learn much more about him later and realized this was entirely in keeping with Paul’s nature.

    This was a life well-lived, and my wife and I offer our deepest condolences to his wife and family.

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