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Paul Choban ’54

August 6, 2020, in Kailua Kona, Hawaii, from Parkinson’s.

Paul’s parents were both Greek; it was his first language. He learned languages easily. He began at Reed in 1950, majoring in chemistry and mathematics. He spent two years at Reed and then two years in the army. Coming back to Reed, he completed his degree in chemistry on the G.I. Bill and wrote his thesis, “The Reaction of Silver Ion with Carbon Monoxide,” with Prof. Arthur F. Scott [chemistry 1923–790] advising. But mathematics was always part of his education.

On graduating, Paul taught science at Portland State University. He married Mona Hege and then taught at the University of Connecticut, where his son Jim was born.

While Paul was teaching in Portland, he ran into Ehrick Wheeler ’52 at the Spatchaus, where both men had gone to get the first beer of the day. Ehrick brought Paul home to our house for dinner and we became friends forever. Later, when Paul married Mona, the four of us got together for barbeques frequently.

In 1972, Paul bought a farm in Forest Grove. He said it was a good place to raise trees, children, and vegetables. After his career in teaching at universities, he began a career in investment banking—all that ability in mathematics came to the fore.

Paul lived to travel. He and Mona traveled through Germany, Italy, and Greece, and saw some of the islands of Southeast Asia. By himself he went to Russia, confident in Prof. Vera Krivoshein’s [Russian 1949–52] teaching from Reed, and was successful.

The idyll of Paul and Sylvia Wheeler ’54 began after Ehrick died of colon cancer in 2001. Mona Choban also died of cancer and was not able to live in their new Hawaiian house very long. Paul came to visit me in Portland. We went out together, laughed, and had wonderful visits. He asked me to visit him in Hawaii. I did and stayed 20 years, with no regrets, because friendship blossomed into love. Reed men make good mates.

We loved Hawaii. He was a grand cook. No one had cooked breakfast for me in years. Paul’s love of travel led us to Crete; Greece; Turkey, where his family came from; and Ireland, where my family came from. We loved the grand American Southwest and Canada. We rode elephants in Vietnam, saw Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and floated on a teak boat in Ha Long Bay.

We all mourn him. Paul lived a wonderful life and did not possess a mean thought ever. As I said, Reed men make good mates.

He is survived by his mate of 20 years, Sylvia Sprout Wheeler; his son, James E. Choban; his daughter, Jennifer Choban; and his brother, George Choban. —contributed by Sylvia Sprout Wheeler ’54

Appeared in Reed magazine: March 2021

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