Paul Gustave Doré, 1964-2018Columns | Wed Nov 06, 2019 | 10:30pm
A little over a year ago, I thought the light had gone out of my life. Paul Doré, my father, and the father of my two younger sisters, died. In typical Paul fashion, it was unexpected and dramatic.
“We believe that he tripped and fell,” is what the police who came to our house the afternoon of August 4 said of the accident.
Tripped and fell? How could a man with such immense strength, intelligence, and wit die in such an … ordinary way?
The truth is my father had been dead, in a few ways, for some time. The Cal Poly and Stanford MBA graduate, the investor, the traveler, the music man, was taken from us — and eventually from Earth — by mental illness and substance abuse.
Those who were close to him knew this. And those who didn’t know probably could have guessed. It’s upsetting that it seems normal now to have at least one close relationship with a person who is battling alcoholism or another mental illness.
On the other hand, this prevalence should make it easier for those who need help to seek it. Until the stigma around mental illness goes away, mental illness cannot be treated. If you are struggling, ask for help. And if you can’t, accept the help that is offered to you. It doesn’t make you weak. In fact — just the opposite.
Although my father’s demons were more present in his later years, they are not how he is remembered. It is how we can learn from him and the mistakes he made, but it does not define his character or the impact he made on those who knew him.
I remember my dad as the man who drove my sisters and me to volleyball tournaments down south every weekend. He was the hilarious and somewhat intimidating Aries who never learned to keep his opinions to himself. He was the “cool dad” who took his daughters to concerts and who swore like a sailor.
Paul was a full-blown Santa Barbara man. An eighth-generation Foxen descendent, his roots lay in the Santa Ynez Valley and on the Santa Barbara coast. He was the brother to Gaby and Dominique, his sisters whom he loved and leaned on immensely. He was a son to his mother and father, who taught him how to live life to the fullest from a young age.
He knew how to make waves wherever he went — testing his physical abilities to the fullest in football and rugby at both Righetti High School and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, serving in the United States Marine Corp as a sniper, and working on international investments for Wells Fargo Bank, or locally for Santa Barbara Asset Management and The Investment Group of Santa Barbara. Paul was always well-respected by his peers because of his hands-on approach to learning and understanding.
The Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation, however, is probably what Paul himself would consider his greatest achievement. He was completely passionate about the Bowl. When I say music was this guy’s life, I mean in just one year he went to over 150 concerts. Yes, you read that correctly. In total, he estimated his total concert count to be well over 400. His all-time favorite bands included Radiohead and My Morning Jacket. In addition to just being a listener and a concertgoer, Paul dedicated more than 15 years of his life to the Bowl, where he served as president of the board and greatly contributed to raising the capital funds needed for the venue’s transformational renovation that concluded in 2012.
Paul was a wearer of many hats. (Both figuratively and literally, as he usually dressed in some cool band tee he picked up from a recent, or not-so-recent, concert, shorts, low-top Converse, and a trucker hat.) But he managed to switch seamlessly from one to the next, where you hardly even noticed he’d changed.
With loss comes gained perspective and personal growth. There is no outrunning death. Unfortunately, it’s coming for us all. It will reach some sooner than others, and we can never really prepare for that. But, as Paul himself said countless times throughout his wonderful 54 years, “If you die, you die. Life still goes on.”
Although I still have trouble believing that this pain is temporary, I find peace in knowing that he no longer is in any pain at all. I hope he feels nothing but love and gratitude for having touched so many in such a short time.
My dad is never going to come back to me. At least not physically. But as I move forward and welcome his messages and presence, the light is slowly starting to come back through the window of my soul again. I know he is smiling down on us all right now, wondering why the f!%# the music isn’t playing.
In remembrance of Paul Doré, the Santa Barbara Bowl has formed a scholarship to benefit students pursuing traditional forms of the performing arts. To donate to the Paul Doré Scholarship, please contact the S.B. Bowl Foundation at sbbowl.com/give/donate or checks can be mailed to 1122 North Milpas, Santa Barbara, CA 93103. Please indicate you wish to donate to the Paul Doré Scholarship.