You are here: Home » Most Important Journalist » Remembering Paul Seaver, OP: Giant of Intellect and Heart

Remembering Paul Seaver, OP: Giant of Intellect and Heart

by G on 04/24/2023

I lost a giant influence in my life this week.

Father Paul Seaver, a professor at Providence College, died at 92, from complications of dementia and Covid.

Here is his obit.

I was very aware decades ago of his affect on my life including my growth as a person, a journalist, a TV Host, and an author.

Now that Paul has left us I am reminded of all that but becoming even more aware.

I write this as a thank you to him.

I also need to thank my longtime friend — Actor, TV Host, and author John O’Hurley — who also graduated from Providence College and has remained a lifelong friend. John was a great source of inspiration that led to my TV career.

But his first gift to me was introducing me to Fr. Paul.

John read to Paul.

I know that sounds strange.

However, Paul had a deficiency in his eye muscles that would not allow him to read for long periods of time so, PC hired readers allowing Paul to continue his voracious in-take of books he used in his theology course Moral Issues.

(We would joke about the course name. Paul laughed when someone called it Moral Tissues.)

When O’Hurley was graduating in 1976, he recommended me as reader for Paul. Little did I know the effect on my life and career.

The first book I read to him was Small Is Beautiful by EF Schumacher.

Schumacher argued that mainstream economics, which prioritizes economic growth and efficiency, was flawed because it fails to see the impact on people’s lives, the environment, and society as a whole.

Even today, you can hear Schumacher’s influence when it comes to economic justice and sustainable growth.

The effect on my intellectual growth was profound — due to books like this and discussions with Paul.

Here’s the irony. I never was a student in any of Paul’s classes. But being a reader for him allowed me one on one tutoring, because it wasn’t just reading books aloud. It was Paul discussing and exploring the book’s ideas and themes with me.

As a 20 year old who felt intellectually deficient due to high school years thinking I was going to be a professional athlete, I desperately needed to train and expand my brain while feeling confident about it.

Paul spurred that leading to many new avenues for me.

Another PC friend said it perfectly: “Paul could argue both sides of any issue.”

His mind was a huge intellectual rolodex for quips, quotes, sayings, humor, historical facts, biographical and biblical knowledge.

He would use all that to support or make you rethink your point of view or assertion.

That’s how Paul led me into the field of journalism.

I take great pride in my years as a newspaper reporter, an investigative TV news reporter, a news anchor, and a managing editor, who strived to see and deliver many sides of an issue. I don’t recall anyone accusing me of being biased. They might not have liked the questions, but they knew their side would be represented fairly.

Paul also helped form the foundation of my first book Truth: The No BS Guide to Navigating a Media Biased World.

The book’s premise: the most important journalist in your life is you. You have to go out and find — as Paul would — all sides of the issue.

And I also realize that that “Paul-inspired quality” remains today even as I watch the standards of corporate-run journalism turn away from researched and confirmed information while moving towards the goals of money and ratings.

My intellectual feasting on the works of Ernest Hemingway is also attributed to Paul.

In my senior year, when I only needed elective courses to graduate, I chose a course strictly on Hemingway with another PC mentor, the late Roger Pearson.

Paul asked me which Hemingway books I had to read. When I told him for Whom The Bell Tolls we dove into the main character Robert Jordan’s escapades fighting fascists in the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s which were based on actual events.

Reading aloud the massacre scenes by Franco’s forces was chilling. It had a profound effect on me. I literally felt like I was there.

For the first time I felt Hemingway’s depiction of the senseless brutality of war. It shows how individuals and groups can become dehumanized. Yet it continues today.

To this day, I consider myself a Hemingway hobbyist. Check out my show, Undercover Jetsetter, as my cohost, Susan Anzalone, and I constantly refer to Hemmingway’s adventures in the early 20th century, along with his love of good drink.

As a newspaper reporter, I copied Hemingway’s writing style.

Little did I know reading aloud to Paul led to my career as a TV news anchor and a TV host.

I learned about inflection and emphasis when delivering the written word into the spoken word.

Part of that came from learning how to quickly read a full or partial sentence in my mind first before delivering it correctly.

Those years reading to Paul were the foundation of so many producers calling me Mister One Take.

Another one of Paul’s joys that he shared with me was food.

If you were a Paul reader, your added benefit was incredible dinners at incredible restaurants throughout southeastern New England including Providence, Newport, and Boston that he and his family took care of.

That was an education for me, as Paul encouraged us to try different dishes.

I also learned about Mixology. I can remember at Winkler’s in Providence, I had my first martini.

Granted, my father was a great chef, who also loved his bourbon. When we sat down for a meal, he would always tell me, “this is what civilization is all about. “

Paul agreed. But Paul introduced me to a culinary awakening that grabs me still today.

Watch Undercover Jetsetter and our emphasis on food, wine, and mixology that are indigenous to the destinations. I thank Paul for a lot of that.

These are life changing effects that Paul fostered in me.

But these pale compared to, ironically, some of the small stuff about Paul.

Another friend recently sent Paul an article about Bill Gates who talked about the one lesson Warren Buffet taught him.

From the article:

“Even though he keeps up a hectic schedule, Warren still finds time to nurture friendships like few other people I know,” Gates added. “He picks up the phone and calls to say hello. He regularly sends articles he’s read that he thinks … I will find interesting.”

Unfortunately, Paul wasn’t well enough to read it.

But I am certain he would have embraced the article — because he lived it like Buffet.

Visits or phone conversations with him were loaded with laughter.

Despite being a priest and a professor, he still fit in easily with my family and friends because he was always remembering your interests.

I know of so many other students over the decades who made Paul part of their family.

He was one of the gang. My wife Teri considered him a longtime friend who we would visit anytime near the PC campus.

And he stayed connected on social media. Although Paul never met my business partner and co-host Susan, they communicated on Facebook.

Paul also had a constructive and fun sense of humor.

Another friend said Paul cured him of saying “you know” by quickly interjecting, “no I don’t know.”

Paul jokingly nicknamed me Benjy after the mentally challenged Faulkner character in The Sound and The Fury.

But he could take it too. One night he accidentally mentioned that his nickname in the seminary was Uncle Willie since William was his Dominican name. The look on his face said, “Oh no” as he knew instantly that I had a comeback nickname that was used often.

He encouraged people not to be complainers. If someone complained about something they didn’t want to do, Paul would say “well, life is full of little gives and little takes”.

But he encouraged students to avoid bullying and — my term — the “guilt instigators” who get you to do what they want. He wanted students to respect themselves, their own emotions, thoughts, and time.

Paul also played the perfect Uncle to his many nieces and nephews who attended PC. He made sure to not be doting or over-bearing to overshadow their college experience.

His nephew David who stayed in touch with me texted the best compliment.

“You are one of his adopted nephews.”

I can see Paul rolling his eyes knowing I have a new reason to call him Uncle Willie again.

Here’s to you, Paul, Father Paul, Uncle Willie.

Like so many other people you’ve touched, I miss you. But I am so grateful to have had almost six decades of your gifts.

To quote Papa Hemingway,

And it was good.

John Daly is an award winning journalist, author, and pioneering TV host. John has cowritten a book and also taught a college course on how to use the new iPhone technology to create professional video segments for companies. He co-created Undercover Jetsetter, A TV show on travel, food, wine, Mixology, and golf which has more than 80 full length TV episodes, all produced off the iPhone. His new show is Carolina Buzz about the booming Carolina coast. Plus, John has worked as a spokesperson for start-ups. In addition, John also offers media and video training for you and your employees.


Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post: