Former Wright-Hennepin board chair dies at age 88

Don Paumen, a Maple Lake man who helped guide the Wright-Hennepin Electric Association for more than two decades, died on Friday, May 11, at the age of 88. Paumen lived his entire life on the family farm west of Maple Lake. He married Angela Dearing in 1949 and served as a B-24 bomber pilot during WWII, completing 33 missions in Europe. Former Messenger Publisher Harold Brutlag said Paumen was a humble man who could joke about his war experiences. “He said he chose the Air Force because he’d be assured of sleeping between two clean sheets every night,” Brutlag laughed. “But he was flying bombers over Germany and he knew the chances of coming back weren’t always real good.” Paumen was also a long-time member of the Maple Lake American Legion Post 131. “With the American Legion, his patriotism really showed through,” Brutlag said. “He was a member of the Color Guard as long as he was able.” John Anderson served with Paumen on the Color Guard. “He did a lot of that for veterans who died,” Anderson said. “He was always there when you asked him.” And Paumen stepped forward to take a seat on the Wright-Hennepin Electric Association Board of Directors in 1962. He was named board chair in 1983 and served until he stepped down from the board in 1992. “Don provided strong, steady leadership as board chair for WH from 1983 to 1992,” said WH CEO Mark Vogt. “During this time members were experiencing great rate pressure due to the addition of a new baseload power plant. But Don always listened to the membership and was very supportive of the Off-Peak programs, which helped bring rate relief for members at a very critical time in the cooperative’s history. His leadership set us on the path to the competitive rates and high reliability that WH members enjoy today.” Brutlag said Paumen was also dedicated to Maple Lake. 
More information appears in this week’s Messenger.