Who was Paul E. Wethern?
A Biography of Paul E. Wethern
Paul E Wethern was one of the best known and well respected Arrowmen to have come from our District. In 1995, we honored his memory by naming our chapter in his honor. Here is his story.
There are very few people in the history of Scouting who have given 30 years of volunteering experience to our organization. Most of us will never have the same job for that long. So when an individual gives 62 years of his life to Scouting, it's safe to say that he has shaped the lives of many, is remembered by many, and has earned more respect and admiration than many of us will ever know.
For those of you new to Scouting or to the Three Rivers District, Paul E Wethern is someone that you may only have heard of in story, or as the namesake of a multitude of scouting awards. However, for those of us who remember him, he was an icon that defined the essence of scouting itself, and a symbol of unselfish devotion and charitable service. It is our honor to tell you his story.
Paul was born in November of 1899, and died in January of 1992 at the age of 93. He started his scouting career when he was asked to start Troop 168 in Champlin, Minnesota in November of 1930. (later changed to Troop 268.) He remained in Scouting from that moment on, staying active in 3 key areas: As the Scoutmaster for his troop, in the Order of the Arrow, and as an usher for football and basketball games at the University of Minnesota.
In 1971 at the Scouting World Jamboree in Japan, Paul would have a chance encounter that would become the signature element that many of us remember him for. He saw an Eagle Neckerchief slide that was created at a local metal foundry. Immediately seeing an honor that he could bestow upon the Scouts of his troop, he purchased several hundred of them. This recognition became so popular, that within a couple of years Paul was attending the Eagle Courts of Honor for Scouts all over our entire District, telling each new young Scout in the front row, that if they wanted this Eagle Neckerchief Slide that he had ordered "all the way from Formosa", they had better get to work! During these presentations, Paul would always recite three poems; Mother's Poem to Mom, A Dad and his Lad poem to Dad, and The Bridge Builder to the audience. He did these presentations for over 20 years until his death in 1992.
Paul was also very active in his community, writing a column for the Champlin newspaper until his death, and was active in his church. He was so well known for his community service that the city of Champlin honored Paul in the summer of 1991 by dedicating a park in his name, 6 months before he passed away! Since then, our local Minneapolis Scouting council named a road at Rum River Scout Reservation in Paul's honor, and our local Order of the Arrow Chapter was re-named in his memory.
At his funeral in Champlin, his church was a standing room only crowd with Scout uniforms visible on nearly everyone from one end of the room to other. It was a fitting ceremony of remembrance for a lifetime of giving that many of us will never forget.