Paul Grace, 75, a U.S. Army veteran and General Electric retiree, is remembered by friends and family as an endearingly irascible soul with a big, caring heart — a kind of a cross between a lovable teddy bear and the Tasmanian Devil. He displayed a crusty kind humor and a propensity for comic sarcasm that would make even his target crack up with laughter.
Possessing but a small reservoir of patience, particularly when driving, his granddaughter, Cassie, recalled with a grin that as a kid she acquired much of her vocabulary of inappropriate words while driving with grampa. But it was a prickly exterior he carried with a wink and a hug. His son, Paul, said the thing he’ll most remember about his Dad was how he cared so deeply for everyone he loved. His was a generous nature that prompted numerous acts of kindness that he mostly performed under the radar. His wife, Marianne, learned months after he started, that her husband was delivering her elderly mother coffee and the newspapers every morning, not because he was asked, or it was expected of him, but because he thought he should. She said his generosity also extended to tipping. Told what 20 percent of a tab was, he always tossed a few more dollars on the pile.
Paul grew up in Somerville under strict, no-nonsense parents. His sister, Claire, remembered that after taking his girlfriend on a date, it was his girlfriend who had to walk him home because his curfew was earlier than hers. Paul entered the Army in 1962 and was posted to that sub-Arctic paradise of Greenland. He often wryly recounted his service there as long stretches of boredom in a barren wasteland. But, he kept himself busy by taking on responsibilities for numerous jobs, including greeting and acclimating new arrivals to the base, as well as maintaining food supplies. In that regard, he had a penchant for using the immediate environment by building freezers out of the ice and snow that abounded — efficient preservation using zero energy. He also wryly noted he was the base’s fire chief — in a place where fire was practically unheard of because everything was frozen. Yes, it’s very hard for ice to catch fire. One night after carousing with his buddies as they ingested healthy amounts of alcohol, Paul was overcome by a wave of homesickness and announced he was going to walk back to Somerville. Thankfully, his buddies prevailed upon him to postpone the trek until they could all sleep it off.
Paul worked 34 years at the General Electric Riverworks plant in Lynn as a machinist and where he also served as a shop steward in the building, then known as the “Factory of the Future.” As a sidelight he also worked as an usher for the old Boston Garden, where his generous nature also come into play when he arranged for Marianne’s niece, Bridget, to be part of the Disney on Ice show, by having her plucked from the audience for a spin around the ice in a sleigh in the company of Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters. “I think I was 7 years old, and that was a highlight of my life,” Bridget recalled.
After retirement, Paul acquired a Harley-Davidson motorcycle that opened up a whole new world of travel and adventure. He and Marianne, whom he affectionately called “Brownie,” participated in many cross-country excursions with other motorcycle enthusiasts, including an epic trip to the globally famous gathering of bikers in Sturgis, S.D., which for Paul was as close as he could get to an adult Disneyland. Marianne recalled how intensely focused he was to his motorcycle adventures that once he nearly rode off and left her behind forgetting she wasn’t on board. Marianne said money was never important to Paul, but he believed in enjoying life and having a good time with whomever he was with. They shared many adventures and travel together, and he always enjoyed the moment.
Paul will be missed as a loving and steadfast dad, granddad, brother, uncle, husband and friend who wouldn’t hesitate a second to go to great lengths to help anyone who asked. In addition to his wife, Marianne, Paul leaves his son, Paul Grace; his sister, Claire Crosby and her husband Paul Crosby. He is also the brother of the late Arthur Grace, Gertrude Krasnekewicz, Mary Gilliland, Joseph Grace, Joan Weston and Edward Grace. He also leaves three grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.
Service information: His funeral service will be celebrated will be celebrated on Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019, at noon in the BEALS-GEAKE-MAGLIOZZI Funeral Home, 29 Governors Ave., Medford. Visitation will be held in the funeral home, prior to the service, from 10 to noon. In lieu of flowers please make donations to the Sierra Club or Toys for Tots. For additional information, please visit, wwwlmaglizozifuneralhome.com.