To: The St. Lawrence Community
From: William L. Fox, President
Date: January 31, 2014
Subject: In Memory: Paula C. Comuntzis
I write to tell you today of the death of someone familiar to scores of Laurentians, Paula C. Comuntzis, who retired from a 25-year career in dining services in 2005. Paula died Wednesday, January 29, at Maplewood Campus in Canton. Calling hours will be held today, January 31, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Lawrence Funeral Home, Canton. Funeral services will be held on Saturday, February 1, at 10 a.m. at the funeral home. Burial will be in Evergreen Cemetery, Canton, in the spring.
Paula began as a temporary employee with dining services in 1979, moving to a full-time position in 1980. After her retirement, she returned to campus occasionally as a temporary worker. Known for her infectious smile and warm greeting to every person she met, Paula was a fixture in Dana and later in the Pub, where she was a cashier as well as a generalist in the kitchens. From her perch on a small stool as she worked the register, Paula especially looked out for students who were far from home for the first time. Alumni Executive Council President Steve Todd '92 considers her a mentor, noting "She literally gave me a hug and asked me how my day was every time I walked in the Pub. She was equally warm to my four siblings, each of whom attended St. Lawrence and became attached to Paula."
Paula's fame reached beyond the boundaries of campus when, in 2000, People magazine published a story on users of the then-new motorized scooters and included Paula as an example. Often seen zipping around campus on her motorized scooter and indoors on a Paula-powered one, she was quoted as saying, "At first the students thought I was crazy. But now they think I'm cool." In 2010, students from SUNY Potsdam and St. Lawrence NYSARC wrote a play based on the lives of Maplewood residents, including Paula, who recounted for them stories of working as a bartender and making customers who cussed put a quarter in a jar as a "fine."
She is survived by her brother, Thomas J. Comuntzis and his wife Wilma of Virginia; a half-brother, D.J. Comuntzis and his wife Connie of Pennsylvania; and several nieces and nephews. Memorial contributions are suggested to the Potsdam Humane Society or to Hospice and Palliative Care of St. Lawrence Valley.
You are invited to share memories of Paula on our website.