Paul Dussere died in his sleep early in the morning on July 27 at the age of 86.
Paul was born in 1936 and grew up in Moorhead, Minnesota. He graduated from Concordia College and then went on to the University of Nebraska for his graduate work in mathematics.
He received a National Science Foundation fellowship to study at the University of Wisconsin from 1960-62. Madison was a cultural hub of the burgeoning sixties at the time, and Paul learned to make his own sake — which was, by all accounts, rotgut — and spent his time listening to folk music, attending film screenings, and taking in the scene.
He and his future wife, Sally Dussere (née Dougherty), met in Madison. They were married in 1965, and Paul earned his Ph.D the following year. In 1967 they traveled 17,000 miles around the United States in a VW bug with their dog, Mica, before settling in Oswego, NY.
Paul taught at SUNY Oswego for 36 years. He was a dedicated teacher, and his students were enthusiastic both about him and about his signature teaching uniform of an Icelandic sweater, jeans, and sandals. Although math was his chosen field, he had lifelong interests in history, literature, art, and music, and when he wasn’t working he was likely to be found reading a novel, a biography, or a massive tome about World War II.
After he retired in 2003, he had much more time to pursue these interests, and to spend time with his three grandchildren. But most notably, he returned with vigor to a lifelong interest in photography. He spent much of his time taking photographs of flowers and other nature scenes — such as the sunsets over Lake Ontario — and then editing the photos on his computer and emailing them out in small batches to friends and family.
Paul grew up in a large extended family of Minnesota Norwegians, and was quietly proud of that heritage; after his retirement, he joined the Sons of Norway. His father was the child of French immigrants, and true to his French last name, Paul loved to seek out good things to eat and drink. He never met a cheese he didn’t want to try, or a pint of ice cream he didn’t want to eat. Visiting a new place meant, first and foremost, that there were new bakeries and pastry shops to explore, and he always kept the basement stocked with good wine and good beer.
Another lifelong passion was music. Paul had eclectic taste, and never stopped exploring new genres and seeking out new singers and bands. In his youth he haunted record stores looking for classical and folk albums. In his seventies and eighties he compiled scores of CDs mixing rock and roll, bluegrass, jazz, country, and music from Bali or France or Cape Verde. But most of all he loved the blues, in all its forms. If this obituary had a soundtrack, it would be Jimmy Yancey’s soulful, wordless “Mournful Blues.”
He and Sally lived together in Oswego for decades, in a house that they filled with books and records and pottery and art. Paul expanded the garden beds so there were always flowers to photograph, and in the evenings they watched funny movies and British quiz shows. Often, they drove down to the lake so that Paul could photograph the sunset.
Paul is survived by his wife, Sally; his two sons, Erik and Michael; three grandchildren, Jacob, Nicholas, and Liv; and a brother, David.
Calling hours will be held Monday, Aug. 1, at the Nelson Funeral Home, Oswego, from 3 to 6 p.m.