Noah Ernest Paulin


 Credited with establishing the first music department at Pacific Union College in 1914, Noah Paulin came to PUC following a conversion to the Seventh-day Adventist Church five years earlier. A violinist who had been running a private music studio in Santa Barbara, he arrived at PUC with only his instrument, some music, a few personal belongings, and a love for his new-found church.

His residence was the first music building until he married three years later. The department was moved to make room for his wife, Mary Louise Plunkett, a young woman he had met at a camp meeting and then converted. After several moves to various spots on campus, a new home for music was constructed in 1932 and enthusiastically named for Paulin by an overwhelming student vote, a tribute to his musical contributions and personal influence on campus.

Born in Ohio, Noah was the son of Levi and Caroline Kinley Paulin. He began formal music study at Findlay College, which he attended from 1898-1901. For the next two years he traveled across the country with a group known as the Henry Minstrels, serving as the orchestra conductor. When the Paulin family moved to California in 1905, Noah did graduate work in music at the state teachers' college in Santa Barabara, now a University of California campus.

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 was also a composer of 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.

He led the department for thirty years, 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.

The 1944 annual was dedicated to him and when the present music building at PUC 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."

At the time of his death at age 91, a number of tributes given at the funeral service were printed in an article in the Pacific Union Recorder by Roger W. Coon 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 55 years earlier, 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: 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, 27 November, 1, 8;  WW II Draft Card; Jennings Family Tree,; Genealogy Report biographical form completed by Paulin for R.H. Paulin, unknown year.