On Wednesday evening in northern Indiana, a tragic car accident occurred. When the dust and debris settled, Indiana had lost Paul Chase.
At the time of his passing this week, Paul was the deputy director of policy and administration of Covering Kids & Families of Indiana, a nonprofit group organized to improve healthcare access for Hoosiers. But that was just the most recent project that needed a good person to do something important. He did a lot of that.
I first got to know him when he was advocating for utility consumers on behalf of the Citizens Action Coalition. That was an important job that is often unpopular, but he did it with a class that only he uniquely could. He took that same level of excellence to his job as the state policy director for the AARP. I regretfully missed his time doing pro bono legal work for HIV/AIDS victims during the 80’s, but I am confident his excellence was irreplaceable by those he helped.
However, none of that is what made him special to me. Those things were just the kind of things I may have been able to predict he would do based on the quality of person he just always seemed to be. You see, Paul was a truly good man. And that is a bigger deal than it might sound.
In the world of politics, we are surrounded by “great guys” day in and day out. That term applies to people that are charismatic, or well spoken, or can tell a good joke, etc. Again, “great guys” tend to grow on trees. And in that regard, Paul had all of that covered as well. Being good, in this case is far more important.
In his last job, his work took him out of the statehouse more than I liked since that was the only place I spent time with him. I always enjoyed talking to him there and he always had great reasons for the positions he was advocating. I loved telling him I was going to alert the media this past year when he came to the Capitol. We would make fun of how something important must be happening since “The” Paul Chase was in the building. He was funny.
All that aside, everyone who knew him knew that he had integrity. He was honest and he was smart. He always believed in what he was doing and he never gave his charge a half hearted effort. Even when he knew he was going to lose, he showed up and he fought the good fight. And he did it with class.
I did not know Paul’s family and he didn’t know mine. We never shared a meal together. I wish that weren’t true. Because he set an example in the political, policy and advocacy world that will be deeply missed. His example is one that is easy to remember while our community is still mourning his untimely death. I wish we had gotten some warning about the car accident that took him from us.
Our challenge now is continuing to use his great example of how to be good for a long time to come. In a world full of great, this week we sadly lost someone that was truly good.