Remembering longtime Mensa member Paul Rompala, who passed away May 3, 2007
Remember Paul Rompala
By Bonny Bumiller and Stacey Kirsch
Paul Rompala, a lawyer and teacher from Elmwood Park, passed away suddenly on May 3 at the age of 57. A frequent attendee at the Monthly Meetings‡ over the last eight years, Paul was always surrounded by many “FOP’s (Friends of Paul)”. Here’s what member Bonny Bumiller had to say about her friend:
“Paul Rompala was one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. I met him in January 2003 at Triton College. He was my Business Law teacher. At age 40, I was going to be entering law school that fall, and I wanted to get back in the swing of studying and taking tests, as well as to learn some basics about the law before then. I decided to go to Tribon and take some law-related classes such as Criminal Justice and Business Law. (At that time, I was already a member of Mensa, but I did not attend the social functions. I just thought it was a cool credential to have on my resume.)
“Paul was very fond of quotations, and every day we had to bring a quotation or a witty saying to class. Occasionally, he would speak of interesting lectures and ‘meetings’ that he would attend, and I wondered what he was talking about, but I didn’t want to pry. Then one day, he talked about a lecture that he had attended recently, and I remember reading in Chime about a meeting with that topic (I think it might have been Rembrandt?). After class, I asked him if the group he was talking about was Mensa, and he said yes! I told him that I was a member, too, and he encouraged me to come. One of the first (and funniest) meetings I attended was Gregg [Bassett]’s talk on squirrels (the newsletter of the Squirrel Lover’s Club is ‘In a Nutshell’).
“Paul’s table at Mensa was always among those that talked the loudest and laughed the hardest. He was always bringing new friends to the meetings. Once at our table, I sat next to a guest whose name tag said, ‘F.O.P.’ I asked him, ‘What does your name tag mean, “Fraternal Order of Police?”’ He said, ‘No, “Friend of Paul.”’ I said, ‘Hi! My name is Bonny, and any “F.O.P.” is an “F.O.B.”’
“Unfortunately (for purposes of this note), most of Paul’s humor was extremely so-called ‘politically incorrect.’ Although that’s exactly what I have liked so much about him, I couldn’t realistically share his favorite jokes in this forum without offending just about everyone. Everything was fair game for his razor-sharp wit! I later came to find out that, in addition to being a successful lawyer, he had done some stand-up comedy. That doesn’t surprise me; he was a riot.
“Although Paul and I had never socialized outside of Mensa, we started walking together on Sunday mornings about six months ago when he got a new dog. I’m a bird lover, so I would bring my binoculars along and watch birds as we walked. We would walk through various forest preserves and meadows, meeting other dogs and their owners. Among the many friends we’ve made are a tree-climbing Border Collie and three miniature Whippets (they look kind of like cute rates on stilts). The winter weather rarely stopped our walks. We even went walking on the cold, wet morning of Sunday, January 21 this year. That was the morning after another enjoyable Saturday Mensa meeting, as usual—as well as the morning of my law school graduation, just about 4 years to the date after I first met Paul.
“I last saw Paul this past Sunday, April 29. We had gone dog walking that morning, as usual. When we were getting into our cars afterwards, I suddenly noticed that my cell phone was missing. I realized that I must have lost it in the huge meadow—probably at least 10-15 acres! Paul asked me if I wanted to go retrace our steps to search for it, but I was just too tired. He said I could call him later if I changed my mind and wanted to go back. So that afternoon around 4:30, I called him and we met at the meadow to look for my cell phone. He had even called one of the other dog owners to join us—I had met her with Paul only once before, but she was kind enough to join the search, just because he had asked her. Unfortunately, we never did find the phone. But I found a wonderful friendship with a very special friend.
“Paul, we will miss you!!”
‡ - now known as the “Monthly Gathering”