I can still remember the first time I met with Paul. He invited me to coffee to talk to me about how we might work together. I had recently started covering Watertown in my old position as editor at Patch, and he was working with Belmont Savings. Through the years we met dozens of times and worked on a number of projects, and we became friends.
I have been thinking a lot about our ventures over the past several years since hearing the sad and shocking news that Paul Airasian had passed away last weekend.
Why Paul took an interest in me, I am not sure. He must have seen something in me. In any case, I am glad he did. I was always happy to see Paul. He always glad to see you and greeted you with a big smile.
Over the years, Paul seemed to always have an idea for a new venture, and when he got his mind on something, watch out! The ideas did not always work out, but when they did they were great successes.
In my time knowing Paul, he worked for two banks, ran his own business and then took over as executive director of the Watertown-Belmont Chamber of Commerce. When he began working at the Chamber, he asked me if I wanted to come into the office as a volunteer to answer the phone, and to give me a place to do my work for Watertown News. I was always happy to help Paul.
Watching him work at the Chamber could be tiring. He always had an appointment to meet a prospective member, was on a call organizing an event, or attended a board meeting. But, Paul always had time to catch up with me, to see how I was doing, and to share the latest video of his grandson.
During the year-plus that he ran the Chamber, I watched him breathe new life into the organization — bringing in new members and reigniting interest from existing ones. Paul was a natural running the Chamber’s events, such as the networking cocktail hour at Branch Line or the golf tournament.
After leaving the Chamber, Paul had another idea, and this time it involved me. For many years he had hosted a show on Watertown Cable, but in previous incarnations he focused on local business. I had been one of his guests, years before, to talk about Watertown Patch.
Paul wanted to do another show, and we decided we should switch the focus to non-profit organizations and people around Watertown who were trying to help the community. This appealed greatly to Paul, who grew up in Watertown, ran a business here — Eastern Clothing — with his brother John, and raised a family nearby, in Belmont. We called the new show Inside Watertown.
I had never been a host of a show, and am not the most comfortable at public speaking. However, Paul put me at ease. We shot several shows, each one going more smoothly and getting more toward our goal of letting residents know about people doing good things in Watertown. The last times we spoke, just days before he died, we were planning our latest show.
The conversation was a familiar one. We got down to business quickly, but as always Paul made sure to ask how I was doing, and to see if he could do anything to help me out.
We made plans to have breakfast soon, but sadly we won’t be able to meet at the Diner at 11 North Beacon. That was our meeting place over the last few years. Grabbing a bite there with Paul was like hanging out with a celebrity. He seemed to know almost everyone there, and he made sure to say hi to all of them.
Paul was slowing down a bit the past year or so, being semi-retired. He enjoyed visiting his daughter Amy and seeing his grandson Peter, reading on his deck with his dog at his side, or grabbing a drink with his brother. But he still had lots of energy. In fact he told me, having recovering from a hip replacement, that he was itching to get working again.
I am thankful to have had the opportunity to get to know Paul Airasian. I learned that he loved his family, cared about his community, and — if he knew you — he cared about you.
Good bye, Paul. You’ll be missed, old friend.