Although Paul has been in the club since 2002 and is already well known by most club members, perhaps he is not as familiar to newer members. Since Paul is a very vital contributor to the sustenance of the club's activities and events the time has come to let us all learn a bit more about him. Paul was born and grew up in an area of East Houston near the once popular Gulf Gate Mall. He attended public schools in Houston for most of his younger years but before graduating from high school his parents moved to Cypress and there Paul graduated from Cypress Fairbanks High School in 1964. Paul's father was in the oil field pipe business and became recognized as the "go to person" for information about the use of hydraulic fluids and hydraulic pressure. Paul was the oldest child and the only son. He has 3 younger sisters who all still live close together in Waller County.
After high school Paul attended the University of Houston majoring in Electrical Engineering. He participated in the co-op program where he would attend school for a semester and then work for an engineering firm for a semester. He finished his studies at U of H in 1972 after earning both a bachelors and a masters degree. In January of 1973 he accepted a job offer from Texas Instruments in Dallas and remained with them for 29 years. He began his career building Data Math displays, later he was a Product Engineer for electronic toys, then Product Engineering Manager for Bubble Memory control devices, and was an Operations Manager for 18 years. Before leaving U of H and the many hours of classroom work, study, and the intern job there, another event occurred that made a very positive difference in Paul's life. One of the classes he took was titled "Abstract Algebra" and Paul said the only good thing that he got out of the class was meeting a very attractive female student by the name of Donna. They married in 1968 and will soon celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. Club members who have attended a MOST day or one of the annual demonstrator sessions at Paul's shop also know that Donna is a very good cook and we especially enjoy her wonderfully delicious deserts. Paul and Donna have 2 grown and married sons and 5 grandchildren - 2 boys and 3 girls. One family lives in Austin and the other in Allen and both sons are engineers. Paul and Donna are active members of the Lake Country Bible Church and both give many hours to the mission and ministry programs offered by the church.
The first experience Paul had with woodworking and wood turning was in a high school shop class. The teacher told Paul his turned items had very good shape and form but the finishing was lousy. Paul took those remarks to heart and now has become an expert in finishing as well as an excellent turner. He obtained his first lathe as a part of a Shop Smith system he purchased in 1975. He turned many pieces on it but on a wood blank of any large size Paul said he would end up chasing the lathe around the shop as it constantly moved. So finally in 2003 after becoming a member of ETW he purchased a "real" lathe - the Powermatic he still uses today.
Paul retired from Texas Instruments in 1998 and on the Monday following his retirement on the previous Friday, he began to volunteer at the Plano Historic Farm Park. He assisted in the blacksmith shop until his mentor allowed him to be a full fledged smithy. Paul said he very much enjoyed showing the children (and adults) who came into the shop how the metal was heated, pounded into shape with a large hammer, and then cooled, and then shaped some more. Paul has a small forge in his shop and still likes to do some metal working from time to time - primarily making small wood turning tools.
After a couple of retirement years in Dallas, Paul and Donna decided it was time to leave the metroplex and they moved to their current home in Mineola. Of course, one of the first tasks was to build a shop, and a very large one that is wonderfully equipped for all types of woodworking projects. Now the shop is primarily dedicated to wood turning and houses numerous small lathes used by ETWT members on MOST (Mineola Open Shop Turning) and for classes when the club sponsors a visiting demonstrator. Without Paul's generous spirit these events probably would not happen, or they would certainly be much more difficult to arrange. Paul has been a vital part of the club ever since he joined in 2002. He normally provides a demonstration for a club meeting at least once a year and has demonstrated for 5 other clubs in Texas as well as at the SWAT symposium several times. He has attended 3 AAW annual symposiums, and he has served as Vendor Coordinator for SWAT (he is responsible for the recruitment of Doug Thompson of Thompson Tools as a SWAT vendor). Paul especially enjoys teaching basic skills to persons new to turning and advanced skills to more seasoned turners. He is a very patient and excellent instructor. Paul said the forms he likes to make most often are larger hollow vessels with normally a small opening. He has produced many Beads of Courage bowls and he usually is chosen to turn a very beautiful piece for the SWAT gallery to be given away in the Two for One event. The ETW club is indeed fortunate to have Paul Coppinger as one of our members and leaders. THANK YOU, Paul.