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January 29, 2013 > Obituary: Dana " Paul" Washburn

Obituary: Dana " Paul" Washburn

Two days before he died, Paul Washburn reported for work at the Papillon Restaurant where he has been a popular waiter for 27 years. A few hours later owner Charlie Foreman noticed that Paul seemed to be in pain and told him to take a break.

After checking on him, Foreman decided to take him to the hospital. Paul went to the people he had been serving and told them he was sorry, but he had to leave unexpectedly. "I was surprised he did that, but that is the kind of guy he was," said Foreman.

Dana "Paul" Washburn was born in Texas in 1946. After graduating from high school in Arizona he attended college in San Diego, majoring in history. He served in the US Navy during the Vietnam War. Washburn died on December 30, 2012.

Tom Foreman and his wife, Wasana, opened Papillon Restaurant, in the Niles District of Fremont, in the late 1970s. When their son, Charlie, took over he needed another waiter. After his wife, Nittra, interviewed Washburn she told Charlie, "I just found the waiter of your dreams." She was right.

"Within a week he was part of our family," recalled Foreman. "He was particularly close to my brother, Ott. They were both excellent chefs. Washburn had been the chef at his own Italian restaurant in Scotts Valley. Occasionally they would team up and cook a spectacular meal for special customers."

The Papillion Restaurant recently hosted a memorial service for Washburn in the room he had designed and decorated. His sister, Tina Marinus, and her husband, Bruce were touched by the many friends, coworkers and customers who gave testimony to the greatness of a quiet man. One who always helped when he saw someone in need, who took time to train other employees and who could always recommend the perfect wine to complement an entre.

"Paul loved being around food and he was a connoisseur of wine," said Foreman. "He had an incredible ability to listen and he seemed to be able to feel what you were feeling. He made friends with our customers and remembered their favorite foods. He had a huge following. He absolutely loved befriending people and serving them."

A long time customer said Paul Washburn represented a classic, elegant way of dining; he made you feel important. Others spoke of Washburn's ability to expound on art, music, history and sometimes politics. He was an excellent teacher.

"I started here as a host, not an easy job when you are young and people are hungry," said Ryan Adler. "Paul taught me a lot about the restaurant business. He knew I was an aspiring magician so sometimes, towards the end of an evening, he would talk the diners into watching me perform."

With his gentle smile and quiet ways, Paul Washburn made the world a little better for everyone whose life touched his. He will be missed.

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