Carson City and Nevada have lost a stalwart citizen, a family has lost a loving husband and father, and many friends have lost an irreplaceable companion. Eugene T. Paslov was a man of intelligence, curiosity, character, commitment, passion, creativity, conviction and more.
I had known Gene less than a year, and yet, his unexpected death last Sunday numbed my feelings and tugged at my heart.
Only three weeks ago he gave me a copy of his memoir, entitled “Paslovian Tales.” The title alone makes one turn the cover with anticipation, and the reader is not disappointed. Started when he was 75 and self-published in 2008, “Paslovian Tales” relates the story of Gene’s life with candor, humor, clarity, and yes, some surprises.
Gene, most of all, was a teacher. His early life might not have suggested that would happen. He enlisted in the Air Force his senior year of high school; he served four years, worked a while and only then decided he had larger goals in life. He earned a bachelor’s degree and began teaching high school English in California. Many years later, in 2013, Gene received a letter from a former student in his 11th grade English class. She said, “You made class so very interesting and enjoyable because of your enthusiasm and ‘love of life.’ I never experienced another teacher that was capable of bringing that same essence into the classroom.”
Gene later received a Ph.D., became Deputy Superintendent of Education of Michigan, and then served as Nevada Superintendent of Public Instruction from 1985 to 1994. Carson City has been home to Gene and his intelligent, talented and lovely wife, Susan, ever since.
The arts have been almost as important to Gene as education. In fact, he believed they were companion disciplines to the achievement of a full and meaningful life. For the past three years, he worked tirelessly to create the Performing Arts Academy, a charter school, in Carson City. It now must be established in his memory.
A tribute to Gene would not be complete without noting his fervent belief in effective, progressive government. He was a strong and fearless advocate of that cause.
Soon after I became a Nevada Appeal columnist, my colleague and friend, Guy Farmer, wrote that I was a worthy successor to Gene as a liberal voice. I only hope I can begin to deserve that status.
I must close with a paragraph from “Paslovian Tales” because it is so Gene, so inspiring:
“Life is a classroom where we teach and learn about our successes and failures. Knowing the difference between these two life lessons is sometimes difficult, always challenging, but in the end satisfying. I believe in the perfectibility of humankind. Our life experiences present the circumstances for us to grow, learn, and improve. Although we may never become ‘perfect,’ if we pay attention to our life’s experiences, we can improve. Perhaps in the end that becomes ‘perfection’ for each of us.”
Bo Statham is a retired lawyer, congressional aide and businessman. He lives in Gardnerville and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.