Paul R Theroux
December 15, 1922 – July 17, 2017
Born in Ithaca, N.Y. and raised in Florida, Indiana and Michigan, Paul Richard Theroux was the son of longtime Michigan State University civil engineering professor Frank R. Theroux. Paul was one of six brothers and a sister who became the largest single family ever to all earn degrees from that school. Paul’s was in chemical engineering. Paul’ college career – along with his budding romance with a high school sweetheart – were both interrupted when he joined the Army Air Force as a navigator and served in the South Pacific during World War II. While home one year on Christmas leave, Paul offered his bus seat to a different young woman, Marjorie Withrow. When the seat next to hers opened up, Paul sat down – so engrossed that he missed his own bus stop. Instead, Paul got off at Marjorie’s several miles down the line and walked her to her parents’ house. By the time Marjorie agreed to a date the next night, the busses were no longer running. Paul then had to hike all the way home but didn’t mind. In fact, on the way, he leapfrogged over several fire hydrants. After his discharge, Paul and Marjorie, a kindergarden teacher, married in 1947. Two years later their first child, David, was born, followed by Gary in 1951 and Linda in 1954. In a 1960 interview, Paul indicated that his great interest were 8mm home movie photography, folk music (Burl Ives, Jimmie Rodgers, etc.) and tennis. The latter sport was one his father had taught all seven of his children. Paul turned out to be quite the lifelong champion, routinely, in his later years, defeating opponents half his age. Folks would say, “He’s got an old head and a young body.” Another great interest was public speaking. Paul became a longtime member and eventually held executive positions with the Toastmasters organization. Once married, Paul took what he thought would be a temporary job in the insurance industry. That move turned into a career -- as his top-notch work resulted in Paul being hired away by one insurance firm after another. Eventually he became an Executive Vice President of Industrial Underwriting at State Farm. All of those advancements meant frequent moves for the Theroux family, including stops in Westfield, NJ, Armonk, NY, New Canaan, CT and Bloomington, IL. Paul and Marjorie’s longtime dream, once he retired, was to rent a motor home and drive around the country. However, just as he retired, Marjorie died of cancer. A few years earlier, the couple had attended Paul’s 50th high school reunion – and at it they ran into Jackie Windahl, Paul’s former high school sweetheart, along with her husband, Everett, who died soon after. When Marjorie learned that her cancer was terminal, she suggested that, after her passing, the love of her life reconnect with Jackie. Marjorie died in 1987 and in 1990 Paul and Jackie were married. Paul got to spend 40 years with Marjorie and 20 with Jackie, who passed away in 2010. Paul Richard Theroux's book, "Q-23: A Novel of Espionage and Racqueteering," was endorsed by his cousin, best-selling novelist Paul E. Theroux, and is available from Liberty Tree Press.
Paul R Theroux
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June 29, 2018
I met Paul in basic training at Miami Beach in September, 1943. Later we were in the same navigation class at San Marcos, August-December, 1944, at which time we were commissioned. I often joined Paul in off-duty trips to Austin, while at San Marcos. We were good friends--I grew up in southern Michigan--and we shared good times. I looked Paul up 2-3 years ago and we chatted by phone for a time. A good man and it was my pleasure to know him while we served together in WWII.
July 20, 2017
The son of a Michigan State University professor, Paul Richard Theroux packed a lot into his nine and half decades. From authoring his own book to his service in the South Pacific during World War II. his remarkable business (and tennis!) acumen to the two women and three kids he gave his love and devotion to, one could not have wished for a finer role model. While home in East Lansing MI during a Christmas furlough, Paul met a kindergarden schoolteacher named Marjorie Withrow -- and as "Withrow with Theroux" had a nice ring to it, they married in 1947 (see photo). My brother David, my sister Linda and I were the result. While attending my Dad's 50th high school reunion, the couple ran into Everett and Jackie Windahl -- she being my Dad's former high school sweetheart. The next year, Everett died. When my Mom learned in 1986 that she had terminal cancer. she suggested that, after her passing, the love of her life reconnect with Jackie. After my Mom died in 1987, my Dad did exactly that -- and married Jackie in 1990. They had 20 years together; my parents had 40. And now, almost 30 years to the day I lost my Mom, she and Dad are reunited forever.