In Memoriam: Two Oberlin Community Members Will Be Missed
Paul Arthur Brill, who performed his 40 years of service to Oberlin College as an electrician, did not hold the most visible position on campus. But those who knew and worked with Brill had tremendous respect for him. His death on Feb. 18 was a loss for the Oberlin College community.
“Even though we knew it was coming, it was certainly a shock,” said electrician Michael Karney. “We don’t want to ever forget Paul.”
Friends of Brill have set up a small memorial of his personal effects to honor him in the Service building’s electrical shop.
“We loved Paul: he was a great fellow and had such great knowledge,” said Maintenance Manager John Howard. “He was a mentor to a lot of people here.”
“He had a humor about him that some didn’t understand, unless you knew him, but if you knew him you did,” said Karney. “There are examples, but I don’t know if you could print any of them.”
While at Oberlin, Brill showed great dedication to his work.
“He was never not the first one here,” said another co-worker, Robert “Sarge” Aviles. “He was the go-to guy.”
“The more work he had to do, the happier he was: he hated a slow day,” said Karney.
“Paul was electrician personified,” said Howard.
Mr. Brill leaves behind his wife, Mary A. Brill and his daughters, Cheryl A. Lawrie and Wendy S. Brill, who are both employed at the College, his son, David A. Brill, his brother, Eugene A. Brill and his grandchildren.
“He was a good family man,” said Karney. “He didn’t miss a day until he broke his wrist when he was thrown from a horse on family vacation. He wasn’t a horse rider, but that’s what the family wanted to do, so he did it.”
“He was a friend, too,” said Arthur Fruner.
“If you tried to give him a gift for doing something, he wouldn’t accept it,” said another electrician, Jeff Clark.
“That’s who he was,” said David Cannon, who had been one of Brill’s many apprentices.
Brill was a native of Oberlin. Before working for the College, he served for six years in the United States Navy.
“He’s leaving a big hole here,” said Karney. “He was a gentleman and a scholar.”
Fruner concluded, “When he was alive he wouldn’t have gone for publicity, but he can’t stop us now.”
The Oberlin community also lost a valued member with the passing of Margaret Papworth on Sunday, Feb. 19. She worked at Oberlin College for 51 years, from 1942 until 1993, as Secretary to the Dean of the Conservatory.
“Margaret was a phenomenal person, and she was best known for her generosity of spirit and her passion for Oberlin,” said Conservatory Dean David Stull.
During her time at Oberlin, Papworth played a key role in the life of the Conservatory.
“Jokingly, many of us used to refer to Margaret as Dean Papworth,” said Alan Montgomery, a friend of Papworth and Conservatory professor. “Her ability to deal with any situation was most admirable. It now takes several people to do the job she did alone.”
Papworth, aside from being an administrator with huge responsibilities, was a personal presence in the lives of students and many others at the Conservatory.
“Margaret was the first person you saw as you entered the Conservatory Office and often the person who gave you your first impression of the Con,” said Organ professor David Boe, who worked with Papworth for 15 years while he was Conservatory Dean. “She was the first person I met when I came here.”
“Margaret Papworth is fondly known by nearly all of the living graduates of the Conservatory of Music preceding the class of ‘93,” said Stull, who first met Papworth when he was a junior at Oberlin.
Papworth had deep roots in Oberlin. She lived her whole life in the same North Professor Street house and was a graduate of both Oberlin College and the Oberlin School of Commerce.
The letter of condolence written by Secretary of the College Robert Haslun said that she married Harold Papworth, one of her classmates at Oberlin, and remained with him until he passed away in 1978. She is survived by her goddaughter.
As well as being a valuable part of Oberlin College, Papworth was greatly involved with the broader Oberlin community. She was an active member of the First United Methodist Church in Oberlin, an honored trustee of the Oberlin Heritage Center, a former president of Oberlin Community Services, part of the Lorain United Way and a participant in many other community organizations.
“She loved Oberlin and the people she knew who lived here,” said
Montgomery. “They loved her back.”