Paul Gravel

paul gravel
Paul Jerome Gravel, 81, Fargo, died Sunday, August 28, 2016 in his home under the care of hospice of the Red River Valley and surrounded by his family. Paul Jerome Gravel was born on October 8, 1934, in Onamia, MN to Francis E. and Mary (Loaney) Gravel. They moved to Bemidji, MN where Paul attended school and graduated from high school in 1953. Paul entered in the Army in 1953 and served until 1957. Paul Gravel and Nina McNicoll were married in Bemidji on June 20, 1958. Paul attended Bemidji State Teacher’s College graduating in 1960. He and Nina came to Fargo in 1960 and Paul began his teaching career at Lewis and Clark Elementary School. In 1970 he transferred to Agassiz Junior High School as a social studies teacher for three years before being appointed Assistant Principal and Activities Coordinator in 1973. Paul retired as co-principal of Agassiz in 1995 due to health. Paul officiated football and basketball in the North Central Conference, N.A.I.A., N.I.C., M.I.A.C., N.D.A.I.C., and the S.S.A.C. Paul belonged to the Red River Valley Officials Association and served on the board. He was a member of the Bemidji State Teachers College Alumni Association and served on the Board for several years. In 1996, Paul was inducted in the Bemidji State University Hall of Fame (baseball) and in 1989, he was inducted into the ND Officials Hall of Fame in 1989. Paul was a member of the Knights of Columbus, the American Legion, and the Am-Vets. Paul is survived by his wife, Nina, Fargo; his children, Cassandra (Ron) Bornetun, Andover, MN, Brenda Gravel, Minneapolis, MN, Thomas (Barbara) Gravel, West Fargo, ND, and Julia (Dan) Jones, Fargo, ND; Seven grand-children, Emily (Paul) Fleischman, Anoka, MN, Thomas Bornetun, Andover, MN, Danielle (Spencer) Salmon, Austin, MN, Ian Jones, Fargo, ND, Olivia, Jackson, and Caroline Gravel, West Fargo; Step-grandchildren, Paloma (Craig) Strong, Half Moon Bay, CA and Cecelia (John) Belyea, Haymarket, VA; Two great-grandchildren, Freya Salmon; soon to be “baby Fleischman” ; Six step-great grandchildren, Owen, Jack and Luke Strong; Thomas, Grace, and Lucy Belyea; Two sisters, Mary Francis (Peter) Budge, Bloomington, MN and Sharon (Dr. Tom) Davidson, Princeton, NJ. Paul was preceded in death by his siblings, Phyllis, Marcus, Douglas, Thomas, and Michael; grandchild, John Andrew Bornetun. There will be a Rosary at 4:00 p.m. Friday followed by a gathering with sharing of memories at Saints Anne and Joachim Catholic Church. The Memorial Mass will be at 11:00 a.m. Saturday at Saints Anne and Joachim with visitation one hour before.

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Memories Timeline


  1. The Gravels were our neighbors on 14th Avenue when we were kids. There was always an unofficial competition between Paul and our dad as to who had the most immaculate lawn. We joked that Paul and Dad were out there with combs making sure each blade of grass was facing the right direction. We were lucky that we lived so close to the Water Works because between the Gravels and the Benners, there was lots of sprinkling going on! Great neighbors. Great memories. Rest in peace, Paul.

  2. A warm smile, and twinkle of the eye, and sense of a secret not yet to be shared are all memories of mine – whether that came from looking to Paul at a Fargo Public Schools administrative meeting or catching his eye across the gym floor. His joy and sense of fun was EVER present. Pair these gentle thoughts with a beautiful tenor voice and you have an angel/scamp that will enjoy his new home and old friends as he enters heaven. Nina, you have been everything Paul hoped for in his life’s companion and a model of love and care to us all. You are loved, supported, prayed for and held, now and always in the spirit you both have helped to create. May the flood of warm memories – laughter and joy filled moments, hours, days and weeks – come back to comfort you like a warm blanket pulled up over our shoulders when we need it most. Hugs to you all. Remember always the pride and joy Paul had in his family.

  3. Nancy Jordheim took the words right out of my mouth! I remember Paul with great fondness…..a devilish twinkle in his eye at all times! He made me smile every time I saw him. Nina, I hope you can feel a very warm embrace coming your way from me. Thoughts and prayers to you and your family. All my love to you. MB

  4. Many thoughts & Prayers for you Nina & all of your family in your time of sorrow. I (Kathleen) loved visiting with Paul while the choir was practicing before Mass. He was an enjoyable guy.
    Cherish/Hold on tight all of the fond memories you have of Paul. RIP Paul!

  5. I’ve known Paul for over 40 years. He helped hire me in 1976 for a job at Agassiz. Paul and Nina and their kids welcomed us(Mary) into the community. Our Sunday visits were always full of laughs and fun. Paul always had any number of stories or jokes to tell and was fast with a quip, so you had to be on your toes!

    As I think of the years that I have known Paul I am struck by the caring he showed and the service he gave to our community as a veteran and educator just to name two areas. For some reason he had trouble remembering names of students. His solution was, if he saw a boy, he’d call him “champ” or if it was a girl, he’d call her “sweetheart”! There were a lot of champs and sweethearts at Agassiz !!!
    Paul was one of a kind and I richer for knowing him these many years. I’m proud to call him a colleague and friend. Rest in Peace, Gabby!

  6. Nina, I’m so very sorry for your loss. I know exactly what you are going through when I lost my husband 8 years ago. You know that Paul was my gym teacher at Lewis and Clark, but he was more then that. A wonderful teacher, friend and neighbor. I’ll miss waving and honking my horn on the jeep while driving by your home. When my husband passed away, people told me to stay strong. You do the same, you have a wonderful family to support you. He will not be forgotten. Take care. Sharon

  7. Paul was someone that I looked up to when I was a young child. He was like a second dad to me for I spent a lot of time at the Gravel home growing up. We all had so much fun in our old neighborhood. Nina, was also like a second mother to me as well. I will always remember when Paul and Nina went out of town, they would instruct their kids to not have anyone in the house while they were away, except me, I was not included in that rule, per Paul and Nina. Many many fond memories growing up with the Gravel family. I think Paul’s organization and cleaning skills rubbed off on me for I followed his lead in keeping things at my own family house neat and clean as Paul did.
    I wish the very best to the Gravel family who I will always have in my heart.
    Paul was a great person to us all!

  8. My first encounter with Mr. Gravel was when I sold him a mini van back around 1998. I was working at Muscatell Dodge and Jeep in Moorhead at that time. Over the past 18 years I have sold Mr. Gravel and his wife Nina numerous vehicles. I can honestly say he was always very positive and as fun to sell to as anyone I have ever dealt with. You will not only be missed as a customer but certainly as a person who touched many of us in a very special way. Rest in peace my friend!

  9. Very saddened to hear of Paul (Gabby’s) passing! Was always a great mentor as an official and was interested in all you were doing. He was always asking questions about your work, city politics and athletics. He leaves a tremendous legacy with his officiating and teaching careers. Family was huge to him and he was so proud of all of you. Fargo has lost a great one here! Brad & Deb Wimmer

  10. I was fortunate to work with Paul for 26 years. As educators do we had many differences of opinion. However right after a difference of a 10 on the Richter scale, we could talk without malus for the goodness of the students. He was a good man who looked out for everybody. His smile could disarm anybody. The twinkle in his eye spoke the Leprechaun or the demon in his heart. He was a rare man that you could not walk away from without real food for thought. There is an old story as there were many about Paul were he was called MR.GRAVEL. He will always command my respect as MISTER GRAVEL,

  11. Mr. Gravel was one of my favorite teachers at Agassiz. He made social studies interesting and fun. You could count on him every day to greet you with a smile and was great in encouraging you to speak up and share in class even if you were the shyest person in the room. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

  12. It was an honor having him as a teacher !!! I remember having him at Lewis and Clark. There was a time when my elbow slid off the top of a locker and went in between lockers. My elbow got stuck and here comes Paul to the rescue, making his witty remarks and that smile on his face he came and set me free !!! My heart goes out to his family in this time of sorrow. RIP Paul

  13. We have been blessed to live across the street from Mr. and Mrs. Gravel for almost 20 years. Mr. Gravel’s attention to detail in his yard and in the neighborhood have always been appreciated. We have many happy memories of him. My favorite is when I had a home daycare. I had the ambulance come so the kids could look inside and have a presentation from the EMTs. The first kids were getting up in the ambulance and Mr. Gravel came hurrying across the street. He thought someone was hurt and he was ready to help out however he could. When he found out there was no emergency he laughed and shook his head as he went back across the street. I am sure Mr. Gravel got an earful about how much more trouble we were than we were worth. He will be missed.

  14. A great friend, golfing buddy, crewmate on a collegiate football officiating crew and travelling companion! He was my sponsor into the officials Hall of Fame. Never a dull moment when Gabby was around. We went on quite a few golfing trips to Minnesota, Nebraska and Texas and had a blast on all of them. We had a regular four or fivesome at Hawley on stag day. I have many good memories of Gabby. My wife and I have spent enjoyable times with him and Nina and offer our deepest sympathy to Nina and the rest of the family.

  15. What I remember most about Paul was that he could put my dad in his place, convey a much needed opinion while making him laugh at himself. The Day kids loved it when the Gravel kids came over to hang out while our parents went out. My parents really loved to spend time with Paul & Nina. They knew it was going to be fun. The gift that Paul brought to the world was his sense of humor, which will continue on as his legacy through his kids and their kids.
    The Day Family

  16. Gravel family – you have my heartfelt condolences with the loss of Paul. I know that he was a very special friend to my parents (Del and George) and family through many, many years. Rest in Peace.
    Georgia (Voorhees) Walker

  17. Tom, Barbara, Olivia, Jackson, and Caroline,
    I was saddened to read about your father/father-in-law/grandfather’s passing. Although I did not know Paul, your Dad and Grandfather sounds like a lovely man with his intellect, humor, and care for people. Tom, I see you in many of the details included in the guest book entries. You have, and your father had, a love of learning, love and respect for the students your serve, a clear love of family, and a willingness to help others. I hope your good memories and strong faith will help you through this difficult time.

  18. I grew up a few house’s away from the Gravels on 14th avenue and enjoyed playing with the kids, there were a bunch in our neighborhood….I think back to those days of being a child in the late 60’s & thru the 70’s and how great it was. And how nice Paul and Nina were to us all. Always smiling and just caring. I remember Paul used to give me a ride in an old 60’s Ford Falcon to school many days! What a great man he was! I will honor him and his service to our great nation, at the Amvets club…Rest in Peace Brother! /+\

  19. Paul was a great official and man of much tolerance and patience. His common sense made him a great teacher and strong communicator in life from Gym classes to leadership in the school system.

  20. As a young official just starting out in basketball, unbeknownst to me until a few years later, Agassiz school was the greatest place to learn the game. Mr. Gravel, as I knew him then, was always in he corner of the gym watching to see how the games went. Always greeted me with a hand shake and kind words to let you know he appreciated me coming to work the games. My Dad used to work games with Paul and viewed him as a mentor so when my Dad finally explained to me who Mr. Gravel was in the world of officiating I knew I was in good hands any time I went to Agassiz for games. Even years later after I advanced into the world of Varsity officiating if you ever needed some advance Paul was always just a phone call away. He was a kind and caring man that you could tell loved the school, the kids, and the game. Paul “Mr. Gravel” was truly one of the special people I met in my officiating days! It’s people like him that have had a great influence on my life, so it’s with a heavy heart today that I say to his family he will be missed by more than you’ll ever know!

  21. I’ve known Paul since childhood, when he and my father were physical education teachers in Fargo. We spent many happy times with Paul, Nina and family, and my father considered Paul one of his closest friends. I remember Paul as warm, charming, happy, energetic and crazy about his wife and kids! He always smiled and made people feel good. The world will miss as sunny a human as Paul, but I’m sure my father is delighted to have Paul with him again!!!
    Much love and condolences to Nina and family!
    Janet Freed

  22. To the family of mr gravel. I was a student at agassiz he made you work hard. He was a nice man & teacher. My condolence to his family..

  23. I did not know Paul except for shaking his hand at daily mass. Although never formally introduced what impresses me is that when he shook my hand he greeted me by name. Upon reading some of the wonderful things written about Paul it seems that was the type of a man he was. I will keep his family in my prayers and miss him at daily mass.

  24. I am saddened to hear of Paul’s death. Although it has been quite a few years, I fondly recall the cheerfulness he displayed when he would visit his mother at Bethany Homes and work with me when providing medical care for her. It was always a pleasure to run into him when we would see each other at church, on some of the occasions that I attended Mass at St. Anne and Joachim. As a visitor there, it was nice to see his familiar face and ready smile.

  25. I remember Paul from High School. we lived about a block away. The family is in my thoughts and prayers.

  26. When I began my position as attendance secretary at Agassiz, Paul became one of my best friends. I was the new “kid on the block”, but always had the support of the administrative staff. Paul always had time for students, the outcome not always the way the student planned but always fair. Our two oldest daughters, Bobbie and Donnie., worked for Paul through the park system, and thoroughly respected him. We have many memories of a very special man. God be with Nina and families.

  27. Nina and Family,

    What a wonderful man Paul was! In the many years I have known him, I cannot remember him without a smile, a joke and such joy for life. He was a treasure to know.

    Keeping you all in my thoughts and prayers. Know that every encounter with Paul brought a smile…

    God’s Blessings to All of You at this very sad time.

    Tricia Erickson

  28. Mr. Gravel was one of the first principals I worked for at Agassiz Middle School! I loved his sense of humor and he always was a straight shooter! Great man who will be missed. My condolences.

  29. Tom and family. We only have our loved ones for a short while. But will live in are hearts forever. Prayers go out to you and your family.

    Love Craig and Deb Anderson

  30. Mr. (Paul) Gravel was Giant among Men…Dad, Teacher, Asst. Principal, Ref. and most importantly, a Gentleman and a Family Man…His Family seem to Light up his Life…All his Children are Examples of Exemplary Parenting. Always enjoyed When He’d greet Me in the A.M. @ Agassiz Jr. High by Saying “Good Morning Mr. Pollock” – – A Class Act ! – – God Be With You, Mr. Gravel !

  31. My relationship with Paul goes back to when I was a student at Agassiz Junior High School and he was a young basketball official. Most recently, Paul came back to our alumni gala at Bemidji State University and we had a wonderful conversation. Paul was a man of character and integrity. I remember standing with him in Bemidji and reminiscing about basketball, the future of BSU athletics, and life in general. Best wishes to Paul’s family and friends . . . be comforted that while he has passed on, he left a legacy rich with personal support, trust and friendship. DH

  32. Sad to find out that Gabby, as I knew him at BSU years ago, had left us. Sorry to hear this. God bless him and his family.

  33. Mr Gravel was my p.e. teacher at Lewis & Clark School in the early 60s. He taught fair play and respect for authority. God bless his memory. He was a great influence on thousands of his students.

  34. Oh Paul…there was never anyone like you…like the time you were teaching the Cooking Mini-Course–and made brownies…spread the bitter chocolate pack on the brownies instead of mixing it in the batter….We were laughing in the teacher’s lounge until we were crying and you were leading the laughing. In my years, at Agassiz I saw you mentor lots of troubled kids and you never gave up on anyone who was in a difficult sitiuation. You told me once that I could not break up anymore fight because “you will get knocked on your butt”. You represented honor, strength and caring…the students and teachers loved you and the teachers felt the same way.

  35. Paul was a good friend to my parents and we spent lots of happy times together when he was a younger teacher in Fargo. I remember his sense of fun, smiling face and love of kids. He was a very special man and I smile when I think about those days.

  36. I was saddened to hear of Paul’s passing. I taught in the Fargo Public Schools with Paul, and was one of several teachers who had several summer’s work with Paul. Paul always had a smile and a quip ready when he saw you……my life is richer for having known and worked with Paul. The family is in my thoughts and prayers. Bill

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