Local Senior Paul White Stays Active at 91 – The Marion Star


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At 91, Paul White can’t stay down. This energetic man volunteers at Primrose Retirement Community every morning to greet visitors. The staff affectionately call him ‘Norman the Doorman’.

“It’s hard for Paul to be retired!” says his wife of 71 years, Nannette White.

Paul has lived in Marion for decades. He was born in Morgantown, West Virginia. His family had a new house and car until the Great Depression hit. The family of six then moved in with Paul’s grandfather, a farmer and tax attorney in Pikeville, Kentucky. Paul attended a one-room schoolhouse.

Paul moved to Marion in 1944, the same year as the woman who would become his wife, Nannette Cooper. Paul’s father came to Marion because of the many factory jobs.

Nannette moved to Marion from Jackson, Michigan when her mother was hired as secretary to the commandant at the 309th Ohio Army Engineer Depot.

Paul and Nannette started dating in high school. In 1951, Paul was 19 and Nannette was just 16. One night, Nannette told Paul that her family was moving to Michigan. They should break.

“Do you love me?” Paul asked him. When Nannette said yes, Paul said, “I have a better idea.”

The two ran to Indiana to escape. The minister encouraged them to wait, but they would not be swayed. The pastor gave them a piece of advice they’ve been using for 71 years: Don’t go to bed angry. talk about things

When they arrived at the Easter dinner and announced that they had eloped, it didn’t go well.

“Mom threatened to put Paul in jail!” Nannette recalls with a laugh.

The newlyweds lived with Paul’s family until they could afford an apartment.

“Paul has worked two to three jobs most of our early married life,” Nannette said. “Paul worked at a grocery store in Marion for $6.99 a week. He never got a raise, but he learned about hard work and sales.”

Paul has been in sales since the age of 10, when he knocked on doors to sell weekly Grit magazines.

“I love people!” says Paul. “Marion is a very friendly community.”

Paul got a job selling life insurance for the South West door to door. He was proud that his sales earned him a spot at the annual conventions. In the afternoons and weekends, Paul did plasterboard and construction. Nannette worked until her three children came.

As the children grew, Nannette earned a bachelor’s degree in library science from Ohio Dominican and an elementary education certification from Ohio State University. She worked as a teacher and librarian in Marion City and Olentangy schools. He also taught a course on study skills and reference tools at Marion Technical College.

“I love to learn,” shared Nannette. “There’s a lot of opportunity in Marion, especially with the universities. There’s a lot of jobs here, too.”

Nannette retired from teaching in 1991. She began selling real estate.

“I’ve always liked houses,” says Nannette. “But Paul was the salesman, not me.”

Paul became a real estate agent. Nannette kept the books. After decades in this business, Nannette retired in 2011. Her granddaughter, Jennifer Russell, became Paul’s assistant. He took real estate classes at Marion Tech and became an agent. She is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Realty and past president of the Marion Area Board of Realtors. She is currently a director and secretary of the Marion County Realty Association. Her husband, Aaron Russell, is a home inspector.

“Everything I know, I learned from my grandfather. He never met a stranger,” says Jennifer.

Paul White was awarded Marion Citizen of the Year in 2003. He was a line dancer and choir member. He served on many local boards of directors.

Paul keeps busy with life at Primrose, joining most activities including bingo, crafts, trivia games and sing-a-longs. Nannette enjoys volunteering, reading and spending time with family.

“Marion cares about her elders,” says Paul.

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