Paul worked his way from FAA entry level to Senior Executive
Non-traditional ladder from engineer and Airways Facilities
Analytical talents, equanimity under stress and appropriate humor
The below obituary, obviously, lovingly written about Paul Bohr by his family, is a wonderful recounting of Paul’s life.
As two of many FAA employees privileged to work with Paul, we would like to add to the beautiful tapestry some views of Paul’s work life.
First and foremost, Paul was a terrible poker player. Though he fancied himself as a great card strategist—particularly his ability to bluff. As you can tell from his picture, that mug could be read like a book, albeit somewhat boring.
Civil service is not well portrayed by our news media. The image promoted by print and electric media is of a languid, stress-free environment. Paul’s career disproves that stereotype. Nine-to-five was not the limit of Paul’s day. If a radar needed to be installed or fixed, at some remote location and in a blizzard, his duty time always was closed when the equipment was set at the exacting safety standards.
The Regional Administrator job in the 1980s was a demanding executive position. Paul was moved by Administrator Helms to Chicago post PATCO. The strike may have been over, but the struggle to restore the system had just begun. The Moroney Center’s ATC Academy was pumping out graduates. The head of AGL had to be aware of the flow of newly certificated Controllers from Oklahoma City and had to make sure that the centers, IFR towers, TRACONs and VFR facilities had trainers, time and support services. That was STRESS. Make a mistake and a trip to Washington to explain was HIGHLY LIKELY.
The job in Kansas City included responsibility for certification of GA aircraft. Kansas regards itself as the Capitol of Aviation because many of the manufacturers of these small planes are located there. Those companies have the ability to dial the FAA Headquarters if they believe there is a problem. Missing the targeted date for declaring a new plane “airworthy”, i.e. “you may sell it”, results in lost/deferred revenues. Paul had to be sure both that his engineers made all of the necessary analyses, but also that they met their deadlines.
Back to Paul, the man, as opposed to his role as a public servant. Paul actually was a good poker player; we wanted to hear him bark from heaven when we debased his skills. Why he was a shark with the 52’s (cards that is) was his humor. It may have been the biggest pot of the night; he may have needed to win so that he would not be screamed at by Dorothy when he returned; and the guy, who looked to have the best hand, needed to be humbled (the guy was from Texas). Under those circumstances, the former butcher and 1st Class electrician would pull out one of his long, involved jokes. The tactic destroyed the concentration of the other players and gave Paul the chance, through his opaque (always dirty) thick glasses to read poker souls of the devils around him. The Paul had to make the right play.
Those same talents were in play in business meetings. There, too, he was good at reading what others were thinking and when to up the ante of fold. His engineering background, education from the field or from universities, supported his judgments and his wisdom was usually accepted by his peers, his associates, the mayors/elected officials and from the aviation stakeholders. He did not get any calls from Washington to explain why….
An image of Paul comes to mind. At one of his favorite events—the EAA AirVenture at Oshkosh. Though he was not a pilot, he relished this event. His region was the sponsor and thousands came to see aviation at its best. What pleased Paul?
- While the OSH Tower was the busiest in the world over that period, he took great pride in the fact that his staff devised special AT procedures (including an advanced position; see below left and ground controller; right) which replicated the level of safety found at highly automated ATCTs. His AF background made that SPECIAL.
- Second, the men and woman providing this extraordinary service were doing this because of their love of aviation. Most were volunteers who took vacation from their jobs – to be part of the FAA team.
He loved it!!! He loved his job and his aviation buddies loved Paul. We certainly will miss him.
PAUL K. BOHR
Paul Kent Bohr peacefully passed away early Sunday morning March 11, 2018. He had resided in Lenexa since 1987. Paul was the eighth of the nine children of Joseph Lawrence Bohr and Emily Josephine (nee Kent) Bohr.
He was born in St. Joseph Hospital (“Sisters Hospital”) in St. Joseph, MO on May 29, 1929, and grew up during the Great Depression in the small town of Troy, KS, where he delivered newspapers and served as senior class president at Troy High School. In 1947, following his father’s death, he moved with his mother and younger sister to St. Joseph where he worked as a grocery store butcher.
In 1950 he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, and attended Navy aviation electronics school in Memphis, TN. Later assigned to Airborne Early Warning Squadron 1 at NAS Barber’s Point in Hawaii, he quickly rose to the rank of Aviation Electronics Technician First Class. (He always joked that the title “Aviation Electronic Technician First Class” was “a Navy rating, not an opinion.”)
In 1954, Paul left the Navy and used his GI Bill to attend St. Joseph Junior College for a year before transferring to the University of Kansas, from which he graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering in 1958.
That year, at a time of significant modernization of America’s aviation infrastructure, Paul joined the Federal Aviation Administration as an engineer in the Airways Facilities division, installing aviation navigational aids around the Midwest year-round. In 1964 he was one of 20 technicians selected to undergo a year-long management training program, which included a semester at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School.
[fellow AF alumni, not all SU graduates]
Postings to Washington DC, Denver, New York, Denver (again), and Chicago followed, and in 1982, Paul became the Regional Director of the FAA’s Great Lakes Region, with responsibility for 3,000 employees and FAA operations at airports and air traffic control centers in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North and South Dakota. During this time, he testified before a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee on aviation and helped prepare an FAA study that became known as “The Bohr Report.”
He then returned to the Kansas City area and served three years as the Regional Director of the FAA’s Central Region
before retiring in 1990.
In retirement, Paul enjoyed travelling with his wife Dorothy and briefly worked as an aviation consultant.He was an usher and an active member of Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Lenexa, assisted others in preparing tax returns as an AARP tax preparer, and, as late as age 83, he volunteered for the Johnson County Election Office, setting up and operating local polling stations for 15-hour stints each election day.
People knew Paul for many things, but especially for his devotion to his beloved wife Dorothy, whom he met via a mutual work acquaintance in 1962 when they both worked at the FAA office in downtown Kansas City, MO. They were married the day after Christmas in 1964 at Visitation Catholic Church in Kansas City while Paul was on leave from his management training. They cheerfully supported each other through relocating among five different homes between 1972 and 1982 and Paul’s frequent work travel to aviation installations all over the country. In their later years, Paul was Dorothy’s devoted caregiver, driving her to doctor’s appointments, her weekly hair appointment, and to lunch at their favorite Irish pub, O’Neills.
People also knew Paul for the exceedingly gregarious, witty, kind, compassionate man he was. In his various management jobs, he was a beloved boss, whose FAA team in New York bade him farewell with a raucous standing ovation at his farewell dinner in 1979, and whose FAA team in Chicago playfully mimicked his penchant for wearing suspenders with his suits by donning paper suspenders at his farewell dinner in 1987.
In retirement, he enjoyed socializing at his church and made friends chatting and joking with people wherever he went, be it the bank, the grocery store, or Barley’s Brewhaus. Neighbors knew him for his helpfulness and the delicious tomatoes he grew and gave away each summer.
He was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 52 years, Dorothy Irene (nee Sheehan) Bohr, as well as older siblings Robert, Louis, Joseph, Nicholas, Frank, Mildred and Mary Ellen. He is survived by his younger sister Anne Marie (“Ree”) Kerner of St. Joseph, as well as by daughter Barbara A. Beasley (Michael) of Overland Park, and son Paul Joseph Bohr (Christina) of Washington, DC, grandchildren Ryan James Adams Bohr and Sofia Elena Adams Bohr, and many nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews. Visitation will be held at 9:30 a.m. with Mass at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, March 17, at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Lenexa. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Holy Trinity Catholic Church. Condolences may be left at: www.porterfuneralhome.com Arr.: Porter Funeral Homes & Crematory, 8535 Monrovia, Lenexa, KS (913) 438-6444.
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