Noah Ernest Paulin
Noah Paulin, a pioneer Seventh-day Adventist music educator, is credited with establishing the music department at Pacific Union College. He influenced the lives of countless students and left an indelible imprint at the college with its two music buildings being named for him.
Noah and a twin sister, Lavilla, were born in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, on July 7, 1878, the sister dying at birth. He was one of six children and the second oldest of four sons of Levi J., a carpenter, and Caroline Kinley Paulin, an immigrant from Baden, Germany. He began formal music study at Findlay College, which he attended from 1898-1901 and, following graduation with a teaching certificate, traveled across the country for the next two years as orchestra conductor with a popular group of sixty known as the Hi Henry Minstrels.
Noah married Trixie Franzell Boegle in 1904. In the following year, the Paulin family moved to California, where Noah established a successful music studio, played in local theater orchestras, and did graduate work in music at the state teachers\' college in Santa Barbara, now a University of California campus.
He joined the SDA church in 1909 and in 1910 began playing his violin at camp meetings and other church gatherings. In 1914 he was invited to start a music department at Pacific Union College, which had been established in Angwin four years earlier. He arrived at the school with only his instrument, some music, a few personal belongings, and a love for his new-found church. At first, he not only taught music but also served as head janitor for two years and then as landscape gardener until the 1920s, when his music duties became his only responsibility.
His residence, known as the Colusa house, was the first music building until he married Mary Louise Plunkitt of Escondido, California, three years later, on June 12, 1917, following the death in 1913 of his first wife, who had been residing in Ohio. The department was moved to make room for Mary, whom he had met at a camp meeting and then converted. They would not have any children but adopted Philip Palmer Wright, who had been born into a large family which was broken when the father died in 1921 and the children were placed in homes. Philip was a studious person and an important part of the Paulin family until he died from tuberculosis on December 26, 1931, at age twenty, while living in their home.
After several moves of the music department to various spots on campus, a new home for music was built in 1932 and named for Paulin by popular student vote, a tribute to his musical contributions and personal influence on campus.
He led the department for three decades, never missing an appointment, even when ill. In addition to teaching theory classes and lessons, he also conducted the band and orchestra. An often-expressed sentiment during those years was that he was the department.
A violinist, Paulin could play at least 150 numbers from memory, his signature piece being a solo called Tears, one he would play through twice, the second time muted. He often played for special occasions and at a farewell reception for a departing faculty member, he once remarked "When I have finished this piece, I will have fiddled off the hill all the presidents of PUC at Angwin." He was also a composer of the music for at least four hymns and a "Band Theme
Song," which he always used as the first number in his band concerts. It was later adopted by PUC alumni as their hymn.
The 1944 annual was dedicated to him at the time of his retirement, and when the present music building at PUC, a large well-equipped facility, was completed in 1966 and occupied the following year, it too, like the earlier building, was named for him. Two years later, the college awarded him its first doctorate, an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts.
On that occasion, PUC President Floyd Rittenhouse cited Paulin for his "unswerving dedication to the highest standards of musical excellence, faithful adherence to Christian principles, penetrating insight into the wellsprings of human conduct, consistency, dependability, unfailing kindness, scholarly tastes and ideals, persistence and patience in difficulty, and an unfailing and delicious sense of humor."
Mary died on August 20, 1969, at age 86 and Noah died less than two months later, on October 13, 1969, at age 91. A number of tributes given at a his funeral service three days later were printed in an article by Roger W. Coon in the Pacific Union Recorder titled "\'The Patriarch of Howell Mountain\' Passes to His Rest." Guy F. Wolfkill, one of two living former faculty members who remembered Paulin\'s arrival on campus, observed, "In his 55 years of life on this mountain, I was participant in many personal conversations and many group conversations, and I attended scores of faculty meetings with this man. And I never heard him speak one unkind word of criticism against anybody or anything in all these years."
Church pastor Arthur Escobar, commented, "Music was not merely his profession, it was his life. His goal was to make people happy through music. He read his Bible through nearly sixty times; and his life was the exemplification of the truths it taught. There was no weakness in this man. He never hurled a baton at students in his orchestra nor were there angry words. He was a man of modesty and humility, yet a man of courage."
Sources: 1880, 1890, and 1900 U.S. Federal Census records, Ancestry.com. "Noah E. Paulin obituary," Review and Herald, December 4, 1969, 24; "Genealogy Report" completed by Mary Plunkitt Paulin for R. H. Paulin, Noah Ernest Paulin, public member photos and scanned documents, Ancestry.com; Ohio, County Marriage Records, 1774-1993 (Noah Pauline); Ancestry.com; Melvin S. Hill, A History of Music Education in Seventh-day Adventist Western Colleges, June 1959, a dissertation, University of Southern California, 60-62; Roger W. Coon, "The Patriarch of Howell Mountain" Passes to His Rest, Pacific Union Recorder, November 27, 1969, 1, 8; Trixie Franzell Bogle Facts, Paulin Family Tree, Ancestry.com; Philip Palmer Wright, Find A Grave Memorial, biography, Ancestry .com; "New $14,000 Music building Nearly Ready," Pacific Union Recorder, September 22, 1932, 2; Sylvia M. Robinson, "The Paulin Influence," Viewpoint, (PUC Alumni magazine), Volume 1, Issue 4, 5; Copies of the four hymns "My All in All," "Do all to the Glory of God," "The Silver Veil," "Signs of Every Season," and the "Band Theme Song" are on file in the music department at Pacific Union College; Margaret Follett, "Pacific Union," Review and Herald, June 22, 1967, 24; "Noah E. Paulin Awarded Honorary Doctorate at PUC Commencement," Pacific Union Recorder, June 17, 1968, 8; Mary Louise Plunkett (sic) Paulin obituary, Review and Herald, November 6, 1969, 46.