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Beloved Morro Bay teacher Fred Paap remembered fondly by former students

George Fredrick “Fred” Paap pictured in 1981 in Atascadero. A remembrance memorial dessert potluck will be held at 5 p.m. Saturday, September 9, 2017 in the cafeteria at Morro Bay High School.
George Fredrick “Fred” Paap pictured in 1981 in Atascadero. A remembrance memorial dessert potluck will be held at 5 p.m. Saturday, September 9, 2017 in the cafeteria at Morro Bay High School.

Morro Bay recently lost a longtime educator who impacted hundreds of students over the course of his 50-year teaching career.

George Fredrick “Fred” Paap — known as a kindhearted man who couldn’t resist a “corny” joke — was a fixture in the Morro Bay community and considered to be a father figure to many.

Paap died Aug. 19 at age 85 of natural causes, leaving behind a legacy of patience, laughter and a remarkable connection with his students.

“They loved him there,” said Christina Estiamba, Paap’s niece. “They even kept a mailbox for him at Morro Bay High School after he retired.”

A memorial Facebook page was set up in Paap’s honor after his death, and more than 600 people have filled it with countless stories of the beloved teacher.

Bruce Badrigian, who taught English at Morro Bay High, described Paap on the memorial page as “a kind soul with a soft spot for the students who needed him the most, a nonjudgmental colleague, and a solitary man who cared greatly for others.”

Paap was born and raised in Long Beach, with his brother and parents, Josephine and Fredrick Sr.

He earned his teaching credential and masters degree from La Sierra University and began teaching for the Long Beach Unified School District in 1956.

Paap later joined the Army, helping inductees at Fort Sam Huston in Texas earn college degrees. He taught in Palm Springs and Los Angeles before joining the San Luis Obispo Unified School District in 1962.

Paap found his niche at Morro Bay High, teaching drivers education, math and social science. He was a constant presence at Morro Bay athletic events, known to carry a clipboard and track statistics for several varsity teams.

Paap stayed at Morro Bay High until his retirement in 2000, though he continued to work as a substitute teacher at the school until 2010.

When the public learned of Paap’s death in August, family members received numerous calls. Almost all of them involved one of Paap’s trademark jokes. Example: What did the traffic light say to the car? Don’t look; I’m about to change.

In retirement, Paap pursued his love of trains. He made friends with local conductors and engineers, and often rode with them during daily trips around the Central Coast.

The public is invited to attend a memorial dessert potluck in Paap’s honor from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday inside the cafeteria at Morro Bay High School.

There will be an open microphone for people to share their stories.

“Your legacy will live on forever in us,” wrote alumni and Farm Supply president Cara Crye on the Facebook page. “What an impact you made on all of us and our wonderful community.”

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