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Friends Remember Paganucci As Brilliant, Dedicated, Wise
By Amy Calder, MaineToday.com (Blethen Maine Newspapers, Inc.)
Friday, March 2, 2001 - - (WATERVILLE) Paul D. Paganucci was wildly successful in the business world, but he never forgot his Waterville roots, say those who knew him.
The financial genius, who was a long-time Colby College trustee and retired chairman of the executive committee of W.R. Grace Co. in New York City, died Monday at 69.
Paganucci, of Hanover, N.H., was remembered by friends and Colby officials this week as a brilliant man who was dedicated and wise, yet modest.
"I think that people at Colby will miss him as a friend and just as a wonderful guy," said Stephen Collins, Colby communications director. "I think his wise counsel in fiscal matters also will be missed the guidance he provided the college."
At the time of his death, Paganucci was vice president and treasurer emeritus of Dartmouth College, where a service will be held for him at 11 a.m. Friday.
A 1949 Waterville High School graduate, Paganucci graduated from Dartmouth in 1953, and later from the college's Amos Tuck School and Harvard Law School.
A 26-year member of the Colby Board of Trustees, Paganucci was chairman of the board's investment committee and last year donated $1.2 million to Colby to establish an endowed professorship in Italian language and literature.
In 1988, he established Colby's Paul and Marilyn Paganucci Scholarship Fund to help graduates of high schools in central Maine attend the school.
"When I think of Paul, I think of a real gentleman a very, very successful gentleman with modesty, which is hard to find these days," said Joe Boulos, who served on Colby's investment committee with Paganucci.
Boulos, president of the Boulos Co., a commercial real-estate company in Portsmouth and Portland, said Paganucci was highly respected by committee members.
"When he spoke at the investment meetings, everyone paid attention," he said. "Everyone respected Paul and his views."
While extremely successful, Paganucci was very friendly and approachable qualities not often present in someone of Paganucci's caliber, according to Boulos, who planned to attend Friday's service.
"He never really forgot his roots he was from Waterville, Maine, and he knew it, and he was proud of it," he said.
Paganucci was known to pals at Waterville High School in the late '40s as "Pag," according to Donald Freeman, a retired department-store buyer and merchandise manager who lives on Burleigh Street.
Freeman grew up with Paganucci and later played football with him at Waterville High.
"He was a pudgy kid, and I thought he didn't look much like a football player, but he turned into a whale of a player," Freeman said. "I think he had this mental toughness that he carried into his career. It doesn't surprise me at all that he became as successful as he was."
A 1959 Colby College graduate, Freeman said Paganucci lived across from the high school on Gilman Street, an only child, who sported a perpetual grin.
"He was always very positive about things," Freeman said.
As Paganucci grew more and more successful, Freeman said he and others did not see him, but they often read about his accomplishments in the newspaper.
"He didn't stop," Freeman said. "He obviously was a brilliant human being."
Former Colby President William R. Cotter last year told the Morning Sentinel that Paganucci deserved much of the credit for the successful performance of the college's endowment and its diversification into new investment circles. The endowment fund's value had increased more than 12-fold since 1979, Cotter said. He described Paganucci as the conscience of the Board of Trustees.
In an interview with the Sentinel in January, 2000, Paganucci said he was honored to be asked to serve on the Colby board. While he never attended the college, he developed a relationship with it in the 1970's, giving keynote talks there at business and management symposiums since named the Colby College Institute for Leadership.
Collins said he first met Paganucci when he (Collins) was a Sentinel correspondent.
"He explained his fondness for the college as being a result of growing up in its shadow," Collins said.
Paganucci served in the U.S. Army Reserve and later was president of W.R. Grace & Co. He served in several capacities at Dartmouth, where, under his tenure as vice-president and treasurer, the college's endowment tripled.
Paganucci helped found the Ledyard National Bank which, in less than a decade, become a leading bank in the Upper Connecticut River Valley region, with eight offices, nearly $200 million in assets and a trust and investment division with holdings of more than $400 million.
He also served on boards of many businesses and was an active alumnus of Dartmouth. He was a director of the Sherman Fairchild Foundation and of the Grace Foundation and an advisory member of the investment committee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
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