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Remembrance: Quarterbacks Club not the same without Paul Lehman

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Following the space program was one of Paul Lehman's hobbies.

"Remember, you’ll always be smarter when you leave this table."

That line was used often by Paul Lehman at the Monday noon Rochester Quarterbacks Club meeting at Michael’s Restaurant. Paul will be remembered by so many following his death a few days ago at age 88. A 42-year employee at the Post-Bulletin, he had a knack for making friends at every occasion. Paul loved his community and the history that made it great.

Paul Lehman’s association with the University of Minnesota sports, local high schools and the Twins and Vikings was always part of the conversation at the Quarterbacks meetings.

I don’t know when Paul started attending the Monday sports hour at Michaels, possibly soon after it was started in 1953. He just seemed to know so many sports figures on the local, state and national levels. He was especially proud to be a longtime friend of NBC sports personality Joe Garagiola and treasured an autographed copy of one of Joe’s books.

Since Paul’s career at the Post-Bulletin put him near their sportswriters he seemed to have an "inside" to what was happening. Longtime sports columnist and entertainment promoter Ben Sternberg was one of a half dozen men who started the Quarterbacks Club, which saw many name sports figures attending during the decades, including Yankee baseball pitcher Whitey Ford.

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Being a Quarterbacks member meant you likely knew the late Walt Bruzek, founder of the Bearfax Club. Between Walt and Paul they managed to bring Joe Garagiola back as the main speaker for a couple of annual meetings of the Bearfax members in 1971 and 1972 at the Kahler’s Heritage Hall. Having attended these meetings, I personally remember the good times we all experienced with non-stop laughter.

Once the Quarterbacks Club started their annual "Hall of Fame" induction ceremony in 1991, Paul collected all of the Post-Bulletin writers’ articles and pictures of the event, laminated them and displayed them for all to see at the following years annual "Hall of Fame" night. In recent years the special night has been held at the Mayo Civic Auditorium and Paul’s memorabilia was proudly displayed during the early social hour preceding the dinner.

I always felt honored to sit at the table where Paul sat just inside the special room for the Quarterbacks. I sat on the end and sometimes Mayor Ardell Brede also sat at this table, which served eight people. Paul hardly missed a Monday Quarterbacks meeting. And I’m sad that I haven’t been there for several Mondays due to health issues. In the past when I had another commitment that would keep me from Monday meeting I’d call Paul and tell him to let someone else have my chair. That table will just not be the same again without Paul Lehman.

And who was the very first speaker of that first annual "Hall of Fame" ceremony May 31, 1991, at the Holiday Inn South? None other than Joe Garagiola as invited by Paul, and Ben Sternberg, then president of the club. Why Joe Garagiola? Joe had an appreciation for Rochester, the Mayo Clinic and personal friends at the Quarterbacks including Paul Lehman. As Joe Garagiola said at one of those Bearfax meetings in 1971 and 1972, "When I’m gone I hope they’ll write on my tombstone ‘there lies a good man.’"

We can echo that phrase for Paul Lehman.

 

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