Paul James Church. Photo: courtesy family
Paul James Church. Photo: courtesy family

Paul James Church, a disability-rights activist and City of Berkeley employee, died suddenly at home in Berkeley on March 31, at the age of 60.

Paul was born in Dubuque, IA to Helen B. and Robert S. Church. However he considered Missouri to be where he was from — growing up his family moved often throughout the Midwest, but he lived the longest in Missouri.

Paul earned a B.S. degree in Horticulture and a Master’s in Counseling Psychology from the University of Missouri, Columbia, putting both of these degrees to good use, both in his work and personal life.

While completing an internship at the Center for Independent Living in Berkeley, he met Bonnie and eventually moved to California, where they married in 1992.

While in California Paul got involved in disability-rights work, and worked tirelessly to help make the planet more accessible to people with disabilities.

In his spare time he trained as a mediator and volunteered for over 20 years doing community mediation work.

Paul loved nature and animals and spent much time biking, camping and working outdoors as a young man. He continued his lifelong interest in horticulture, with beautiful plants filling his and Bonnie’s home, indoors and out.

He avidly pursued hobbies in reading, astronomy and genealogy, and was a serious follower and a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.

In 2014, Paul retired from his job of 12 years with the City of Berkeley as an accessibility specialist, returning in 2016 at their request to work part-time.

He will be remembered for his kind, generous and understated spirit, dry sense of humor and quick wit, and his ability to bring fairness to all situations.

Paul is survived by his wife, Bonnie Lewkowicz, and siblings Anne Raymer (John) William Church (Anne) and John Church (Sherry), as well as by 11 nieces and nephews.

Although Paul will be cremated and taken to Missouri, a celebration of his life will be held May 22, 2-5pm at the Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley. Donations can be made to P.A.W.S. and the Alameda County Food Bank.

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