Paul Husby Obituary

Paul   Husby
Paul Husby

October 23, 1930 - August 19, 2020
Born in Sioux Falls, SD
Resided in Des Moines, Iowa
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Paul W. Husby, 89, died in his sleep of complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease on the morning of August 19, 2020. A memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m. at Iles, Westover Chapel on Thursday, September 3, 2020, followed by a 12:30 p.m. burial at Iowa Veterans Cemetery.

He was born on October 23, 1930 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota to C. Ester and Roy O. Husby. Like so many children born into the Great Depression, Paul grew up learning to be a modern renaissance man. Hunting, carpentry, plumbing, electrical, and automotive maintenance were all skills he learned in addition to an impressive focus on academics. In fact, Paul and his siblings were the first generation of Husbys in the United States to attend college.

Paul majored in mathematics at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he was a member of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity. He had to get special permission from the dean of students to take as many credits per semester as he wanted, while also tutoring other students. In 1951, Paul left South Dakota and moved to Des Moines where he married, Jeanne Frahm, and together they raised three children. He also started work in the drafting department of Pittsburgh-Des Moines Steel Company.

At PDM, Paul developed the math test that all applicants to the drafting department were required to pass before being hired. He often said, “If you already know how to do the math, we can to teach you how to draw it.” That philosophy served him well, and he rose to manager of the drafting department, eventually retiring from PDM in 1999, after 47½ years. Paul’s coworkers said one of the things they missed most after he retired were the puns and jokes they referred to as “Husbyisms”.

In addition to a successful civilian career, Paul also had a distinguished military career. He and his older brother Milton both loved the USA and her Navy. When Milton was drafted during World War II, Paul was too young to serve, but he enlisted in the US Navy Reserve in 1949. He served stateside as an electronics technician, rewiring ships in port, installing radio arrays, and teaching other technicians. Though he retired from service in 1990, Chief Petty Officer Husby remained an active member of the Navy Fleet Reserve Association until recently.

For many years, Paul combined his Navy and PDM skill sets in local community theater, designing and building sets as well as programming and running lights for dozens of shows at the Des Moines Community Playhouse, Drama Workshop, and Theater Fabulous.

A member of Central Presbyterian Church in Des Moines since February 17, 1956, and deacon for many years Paul was always helping out when and where he could. Repairing doors, assembling the set and operating the spotlight for the children’s Christmas pageant were just some of the ways he volunteered his time and skills. In fact, after Paul and Jeanne divorced, it was through a combination of Central and the Playhouse that Paul met Janet Stewart, who he married in 1973.

Even in the Midwest, you can’t keep a sailor on dry land. In the 70’s Paul turned the driveway into a shipyard and built the first of two boats he kept at Lake Rathbun in southern Iowa. He also joined the Rathbun Yacht Club, where he did the drafting and volunteered as a foreman for the construction of the Yacht Club’s Clubhouse.

He is survived by his wife (Janet), children (Paula, Laura, and Philip), five grandchildren, twenty great-grandchildren, brothers Milton (Mary) and Ralph (Sheryl) and a brother-in-law Allan.

He was preceded in death by his parents and his sister Lila.

The name Paul comes from a Latin word that translates into English as “modest” or “humble.” In spite of his many achievements in life, those words described him perfectly. Though he lived a life of service to others, he was never a fan of awards or accolades. If he helped you remodel your bathroom, or built a table for you, Paul would let you reimburse him for materials, but not for his time. As he always said, “That’s what neighbors are for.”

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Central Presbyterian Church.

To view a Live Stream of Paul's service please visit this link or scroll to the bottom of this page to find the feed





Westover Funeral Home
6337 Hickman Road
Des Moines, IA US 50322
Thursday, September 3, 2020
11:00 AM
Iowa Veterans Cemetery
34024 Veterans Memorial Drive
Adel, IA US 50003
Thursday, September 3, 2020
12:30 PM