Paul deLay Memorial
By Susan Waterworth
A memorial gathering for “Friends of Paul” deLay was held in Portland, OR at the Kennedy School pub on Monday, March 13. Mark DuFresne and I traveled from Seattle to pay our respects. All of Portland’s blues cognoscenti were there, of course, and Curtis Salgado, Lloyd Jones, Ray Varner, and others told stories or paid tribute to Paul. Many former band mates spoke of their awe at Paul’s musicianship and songwriting talent.
A steady stream of mourners shared their love and admiration of Paul with his widow Megan, who met Paul at Seattle’s Owl Café when she was just 21, 17 years ago. Megan provided a slide show with musical soundtrack that played throughout the evening, showing the domestic deLay enjoying his beloved cats, friends, and family. Megan’s father Don Gill choked back sobs as he greeted friends, grieving for his family’s loss - “they were just so devoted to one another.” Susan Reese, the attorney who had seen Paul through his troubles with the Feds, and then later performed Paul and Megan’s wedding ceremony, told the assembled that when she’d go to visit folks at Paul’s “camp,” she’d wait to visit him until last because his humorous take on his situation never failed to cheer her up.
The love and grief for Paul were palpable. Peter Damman, Paul’s longtime guitarist and booking and organizational maestro, provided an uplifting close to the event by playing footage of an absolutely gleeful Paul at the Waterfront Blues Festival shortly after his release from prison in 1995. He was beaming as he sang of his love for Megan and his freedom from addiction.
A public tribute and benefit concert for Paul’s family is being planned in Portland, tentatively scheduled for April 1. It may be recorded so that sales can benefit the family. Stay tuned here for information on how to donate to the Paul deLay Memorial Fund, which will benefit Paul’s widow, Megan. Plan to travel down and “have a good time on purpose,” as Uncle Ray exhorted, quoting Paul.