Paul Spaniola 1913-2013 : Pipes and Tobaccos Magazine

Paul Spaniola 1913-2013

spaniolaPaul Spaniola, owner of Paul’s Pipe Shop in Flint, Mich., passed away on Aug. 27 at 100 years of age.

Born Jan. 29, 1913, Spaniola was a legend in the pipe hobby, recently celebrating his 85th year in business. In 1928, at just 15 years old, he opened a tavern and pool hall. In 1930, a pipe salesman bet Spaniola $10 that he couldn’t sell 12 pipes. No one ever told Spaniola what he couldn’t do. He accepted swaps to sell the pipes and won the bet and accumulated a bunch of used pipes. From that point on, Spaniola was involved in the pipe business for the rest of his life. He repaired pipes. He blended tobaccos. And he made his own pipes, named Cayuga, after a Native American people.

Spaniola founded the Arrowhead Pipe Club and organized the Michigan Pipe Smoking Contest. He is the only six-time world champion pipe smoker, with his best time being 1:38:53. Just five years ago Spaniola placed second in the world pipe smoking championship.

The pipe museum at Paul’s Pipe Shop contains many of his favorite pieces of tobacciana and mementos, including a photo of Susan Hayward. By the 1950s, Spaniola’s status as world champion smoker caused him to receive an invitation to travel to Hollywood to teach Hayward how to smoke a pipe for her leading role as Rachel Jackson in The President’s Lady, a film about Andrew Jackson and his wife.

In later years, he was commissioned a Kentucky Colonel by Gov. Martha Collins of Kentucky, and he traveled to the U.K. at the invitation of Alfred Dunhill’s wife. In January 2013, Spaniola celebrated his 100th birthday at the store, enjoying cake and camaraderie with friends and family.

Spaniola’s interests ranged far beyond the pipe world. He was a musician who played the guitar, the mandolin and the accordion. It was through music that he met his first wife, Leona, whom he married in 1932. Leona died Aug. 27, 1978, exactly 35 years before Spaniola’s death. In 1981, Spaniola married his second wife, Doris, who passed away in 2007.

In addition to being a founding member of the Flint Arrowhead Pipe Club, he was also a member of the International Association of Pipe Smokers Club. He was also active in his church and several other local organizations, including the Elks Club and Knights of Columbus.

Spaniola leaves behind a large familythat includes children James Spaniola, Patricia (David) Schoenfield, Janice (Malcolm) Caudle, Lois Durish, Pauline (Murray) Maurer, Daniel (Cheryl) Spaniola, Sister Jacqueline Spaniola, Nora Spaniola, Karen Blount, Sharon (Dennie) Smallwood and Sandra (Mark) Rydzak; brother, Arthur; 80 grandchildren; 99 great-grandchildren; 14 great-great-grandchildren; sons-in-law Terry Krotzer and Michael Shumaker; and daughter-in-law, Sally Dikos.

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Category: obituary, Winter 2014

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