By Ken McGill, Registrar of Voters
City of Pawtucket
The City of Pawtucket has lost a great friend – this past Wednesday Councilor Paul Wildenhain passed away quietly surrounded by family. If you didn’t know Paul then you missed meeting a great man. Paul, who represented District 2 in the city for thirteen years on the city council, was the type of politician who didn’t give you any bull. Constituents of his could call him night and day with a problem and if he felt it was a legitimate problem he would do everything in his power to rectify it and if he felt you didn’t have a gripe then he would set you straight. Too many politicians today give you lip service and never follow through on their promises. This was not Paul Wildenhain.
Not only was Paul a fighter for his constituents he was a very generous man. It was just a few months ago when my wife and I attended a pasta dinner at The Call to raise money for the Pawtucket Animal Shelter and there was Paul in his wheelchair greeting people as they came in. Paul had a soft spot for the animal shelter and worked hard to make sure that the new shelter that was approved by the voters became one of the best in the state. Paul succeeded in that quest and currently the Pawtucket City Council is considering naming the shelter after him.
Paul was also very generous to my family and our quest to cure Cystic Fibrosis. Any fundraiser that we had Paul would be one of the first to send in his money. Many times he would stop by the office at city hall just to make sure I got the donation. I also remember during one of the Pawtucket Fireworks Committee’s annual auctions Paul bid on and won the chance to have dinner with Mayor Doyle. Now Paul could have taken anyone to that dinner but he chose to take Rick Goldstein and myself because we were the chairs of the committee and as he said “worked hard to make sure Pawtucket had a July 4th”. So, as he promised, Paul, Rick, Mayor Doyle and myself had dinner at the Checker Club on Benefit Street. Paul told us all, as he was laughing, to order whatever we wanted because it was on the mayor.
Approximately two weeks ago Rick Goldstein (City Clerk), Michelle Hardy (Deputy City Clerk) and myself went to visit Paul in Oak Hill Nursing Home. Obviously in great pain Paul seemed happy to see us and reached out to shake all our hands. Always being the Councilman of District 2 Paul was asking Rick what was coming up with the council and when he learned that one of the local liquor establishments in his district, had sold to an underage client, he wanted them to get a 3-day suspension of their license and a $500 fine. To the very end he was District #2’s Councilman.
The citizens of Pawtucket have been blessed to have an advocate like Councilor Paul Wildenhain. Today we are sad about his passing, but we can take comfort in all the great things that he did for our community and those deeds will live on in his name. I urge you to contact your city councilor and encourage them to rename the Pawtucket Animal Shelter the Paul J. Wildenhain Animal Shelter. Paul, for all his hard work, deserves nothing less.
Pawtucket has seen it’s fair share of great public servants and that is why Paul J. Wildenhain will always be a part of Pawtucket – a place that he called his hometown.
- Until next week and remember – Answer the Census – We’re Counting on You!