After the death of his wife Betty in 2018,
Paul began working at Hartzler-Gutermuth-Inman Funeral Home. He truly
enjoyed his time at the funeral home as it afforded him the opportunity to talk
with and see so many people that he knew.
In March of 1955, he founded Paul Thomas
Shoes at 119 W. Lexington Ave. before moving his store to 125-127 N. Main St.
in downtown Elkhart. He was in business here until his retirement in
1988. He then founded the Time Was Museum, which he operated until
2022. It was here that he was able to share the history of the city that
he loved with others, often giving programs to local service clubs, at the
library or anywhere else people asked him to speak.
Paul was a lifelong supporter of Elkhart,
especially downtown. He was one of the founders of the Elkhart Jazz Festival,
an event he supported continually since its inception. Affectionately
known as “The Mayor of Main Street”, Paul served Elkhart in any way he
could. He served two terms as a city councilman from 1964-1972 and was a
62-year member and past president of the Elkhart Lions Club, receiving the
Citizen of the Year of Elkhart. He also received the Sagamore of the
Wabash Award from then Governor Frank O’Bannon in 1996.