Remembering Paul Gaulke

Paul Gaulke, my best friend from college, passed away this past Monday after a 10-year battle with cancer. He was our best man when Rose and I married. Thankfully, I was able to speak to him on Sunday and let him know how much his friendship meant to me.

Here’s a few fond memories.

We met at North Hennepin Community College where we worked on the student paper together. That was so much fun. Back in the days where you had to ‘paste up’ columns of text onto a gallery proof. (In our second year we swept all four first-place awards for college newspapers in Minnesota.)

After NH, we spent a lot of Saturdays together. We’d hit up several CD shops and seedy bars. One Saturday we walked by First Avenue on our way to Northern Lights when we heard music. It sounded familiar. The guys at Northern Lights, a record shop about a block away, told us that Prince was going to perform that night, a surprise concert.

We came back at 7p, paid $7, waited three hours and then watched Prince’s final rehearsal for his Sign o’ the Times tour. Here’s the setlist from that night, March 21, 1987:

Girls & Boys
Slow Love
Hot Thing
Now’s the Time (Charlie Parker cover)
Strange Relationship
Forever in My Life
It’s Gonna Be a Beautiful Night

The Minnesota Twins had a great year in 1987 and Paul was smart enough to buy playoff tickets. He took me to Game 2 of the World Series at the Metrodome. We went downtown early to eat a pre-game meal. Walking around we saw Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith leaving the Cardinals’ hotel. Outside the stadium, they were handing out Homer Hankies. Twins won 6-4. Bert Blyleven got the win.

We saw Sam Kinison at the Guthrie Theatre and Jay Leno at the Comedy Gallery, a tiny stage upstairs from a restaurant. We sat right up front. Jay talked to us, saying “I guess your dates must of got stuck in traffic.”

Paul taking a picture of me with my Flock of Seagulls haircut, and Jeff in the Sears Tower.

One night we were at a party, talking football, and it was decided we should catch the next Gophers’ game. That next Friday Paul drove us to Indiana. We went through Chicago to Bloomington, where the Gophers beat the Hoosiers 22-7.

That was one of my favorite things about Paul. He was always up for anything.

Including serving as the best man at our wedding in Phoenix. I’ll never forget standing outside of the hotel waiting for my brother to pick us up … watching him leave the parking garage … and then just drive away. Paul sprinted down the road, screaming and waving his arms to no avail.

A young lady was dropping her mom off to work at the hotel. Standing there in my tuxedo, I said, “Excuse me, but I’m getting married in 30 minutes and my ride just left without me.” She drove us to the church.

Me, Dave, Paul and Jeff in Key West.

Paul, Jeff, Dave and I went to Key West together. Dave and I were turning 40. We always talked about doing an annual trip together, but that was the first and only one.

In 2006, I was driving to Paul’s wedding, but the directions weren’t lining up. I waved down a young lady in another car, explaining “My friend’s getting married in 30 minutes, and I’m lost.” She said, “Follow me,” and took me right to the front door.

The news this week is terribly sad. He was a great guy and great friend. But I’m happy that he and Emily found each other. For all of their 17 years together, but especially the 10 years following his diagnosis, they made the most of every minute, living life to the fullest.

Goodbye and rest in peace, Paul.

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