Arrow-right Camera


Sexton found his place in church community

Tue., May 22, 2007

Moscow residents seemed to know 62-year-old Paul Bauer’s warm smile and friendly personality, but little else. Bauer arrived in the college town about 11 years ago to visit a son, said Stan Mattoon, one of Bauer’s former co-workers. “He fell in love with the town.”

Mattoon worked with Bauer from 1999 to late 2000 at Tri-State, a home and outdoors store in Moscow. Mattoon said Bauer left the store because he wanted to care for his ailing wife, who has since died. Mattoon could not recall Bauer’s wife’s name.

Mary Connelly, part owner of Tri-State, described Bauer as “a real salt-of-the-earth, super-nice guy.”

“He seemed to know everybody,” Connelly said, adding, “he knew hardware.”

First Presbyterian Church representatives said Bauer became sexton in October. He lived in a room there and cared for the church like it was his home.

Connelly said Bauer often came into the hardware store after getting the sexton job. “He’d buy all his stuff for the church,” she said. “He was a kind man.”

Bauer was in the store Saturday morning, Mattoon said. “He was doing a project. He needed some sandpaper and cabinet knobs,” he said.

“As sexton, he really found his niche in the community,” Mattoon said.

Church pastor Norman Fowler said Bauer was friendly but didn’t talk about his personal life.

Bauer has three grown children, but Fowler didn’t know their names or hometowns.

Moscow Police Assistant Chief David Duke said Idaho State Police had a difficult time locating Bauer’s next of kin but finally found someone last night. Duke didn’t know the relationship or where the person lived.

Fowler said Bauer was in the Navy during the Vietnam War, but it’s unknown how long he served.

Bauer lived in New York where he worked for Kodak before he moved to the West Coast, Fowler said. Bauer lived in Portland briefly before landing in Moscow.

He worked for Latah County doing maintenance for a short period before becoming sexton at the church.

He was very appreciative of the opportunity to be part of the church family, Fowler said.

Police officials said Bauer knew the gunman, Jason Hamilton, because Hamilton cleaned the church at night.

When the shots first rang out on Saturday night, Bauer saw Hamilton in the parking lot, Duke said.

“We understand Mr. Bauer had been outside in the parking lot but retreated to the church,” Duke said. “We know he picked up the phone and called 911. They could hear shots being fired in the church.”

Bauer was found dead with the phone in his hand.

Tags: paul bauer

Click here to comment on this story »