Ten years ago, after countless times passing an unsold property lot on Root Avenue, Ed Paul and his wife, Lois, stopped and surveyed the landscape. Ed examined the odd and rather steep slope of the property.
“What do you think, Lois?” he said. “Could we build a house here?”
Up until that point, they’d been living at a condo in the Maranatha House, which had been their home on the grounds since the ’80s.
“Yeah, we can do it,” Lois said.
They found an architect who approved construction on the property, and then Ed and Lois rounded up the Johnson brothers from Jamestown, N.Y., to build the house. Soon, the Pauls had established a Chautauqua home at 31 Root, and since then, they’ve been able to visit the Institution nearly every summer.
Ed and Lois first met at the University of Virginia; they were both members of the university’s symphony orchestra. They’ve carried the love of music that brought them together throughout their entire relationship.
Though Lois played the cello at the time she and Ed met, she eventually mastered the organ and the piano, going on to graduate from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University. She began to teach private piano lessons and to play the organ at synagogues.
Ed got a job in research and development as a chemical engineer for Merck & Co. But when he and Lois first visited the Institution in 1965, Ed was able to rekindle his love of music.
“Music drew us to Chautauqua, and we just love all the music programs,” Ed said. “I can’t even single one out, because they’re all so good. The symphony, the [Music School Festival Orchestra], the organ performances, the operas, the voice recitals — oh my god, they’re just fantastic.”
Chautauqua also gave Ed another reason to pick back up an instrument — he currently plays bass for the Summer Strummers, the Dixie Lakesiders and the Chautauqua Community Band.
And Ed and Lois believe that the music opportunities on the grounds are just one of the things that make Chautauqua so special.
“This place is so unique and so extraordinary that I feel greatly fortunate to be able to be here and be a part of the community, to have this wonderful place to live when we’re here,” Ed said.
They’ve particularly enjoyed being able to share Chautauqua with their children, Anne and Scott, and their three grandchildren. They hope that both of their children continue to visit the Institution in the future. In fact, Ed had hoped to pass his and Lois’ house down to Anne. Unfortunately, Anne wouldn’t be able to manage this commitment.
So Ed and Lois have decided to do the next best thing.
“I’ve always wanted to do something for Chautauqua, and I finally realized that this house would be worth something when it comes time to sell it,” Ed said. “And I wanted to give a part of the proceeds to the Institution. So it was about that simple.”
Ed believes philanthropy plays a crucial role in allowing the Institution to live on.
“I certainly am hoping the Institution will go on in the great state it’s in,” he said. “You realize it has to be supported, that it’s necessary to have these kinds of funds for Chautauqua to operate. The programs are so wonderful — you just want people to be able to take advantage of them.”
By including Chautauqua in their estate plans, Ed and Lois Paul have become members of the Eleanor B. Daugherty Society, which recognizes those who have included Chautauqua Foundation in their estate plans through a bequest intention, as beneficiary of a retirement plan, trust or gift of real estate. Daugherty Society members enjoy many benefits, such as a luncheon with a guest lecturer, entrance to the scholar-in-residence program, special facility tours with artistic directors and other special events throughout the season. For information on how you can become a member of the Daugherty Society, please contact Karen Blozie, Chautauqua Foundation’s director of gift planning, at 716-357-6244 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.