Paul McCollum, 78, of Sandy Hook died peacefully November 25, following a longtime illness. He was born August 13, 1939, in Brooklyn, N.Y., before moving to Connecticut.
He was a devoted father to his daughter, Laurie McCollum, and devoted grandfather to his two grandchildren, Warrant Officer Rylan McCollum and Meriah Tani. He is also survived by his sister-in-law, Sally Lorenzo, and his nieces and nephews.
His son-in-law, Bill Pelletier, of whom he was very fond, predeceased him.
Following Mr McCollum’s successful car salesman job at Colonial Ford in Danbury, he began working at the well-known Lorenzo’s Restaurant. He put in a handful of years before buying it with his then-wife, Jean Lorenzo, in 1968 where Louis Lorenzo, the original owner, proudly handed over the reins. Although most recipes remained the same, as Mr McCollum brought forth a new generation, he also brought along his special touch. He took pride in crafting each dish to perfection, paying close attention to detail.
When the restaurant would close in the winter, he would take trips north with Jean and daughter Laurie and go skiing, which he loved to do. He was also an avid boater and spent many summers skiing on Lake Lillinonah with family. In 1968, he was also the Commander of the Power Squadron in Connecticut. His favorite activity of all, however, was attending the horse races in Saratoga, N.Y. His biggest joke was, “Well, I didn’t win today, but I fed the horses.” He did that every August for more than 45 years.
Mr McCollum’s loved ones say he was one of the most kind-hearted, polite, and humble people to ever walk this earth. He kept to himself mostly, but those who were fortunate enough to get involved in a conversation were soon drawn to his knowledge and sense of humor. He was like an encyclopedia and knew a little about everything. One thing everyone knew for sure, if someone offered to make a bet with him, a grin would soon take over his face for he knew he would be able to prove the person wrong. He would give people the shirt off his back, even if it were the last one he had; however, he would make them explain why they did not have one in the first place. That is how he was. He made people think, he made people elaborate, he made people work hard, and always made sure people understood the value of self-confidence.
He financially and devotedly put his granddaughter through private military high school to ensure she had a promising future. He, too, provided his daughter with the skills and necessities to positively go through life. He was also especially appreciative of the United States Military, which carried on as he watched his grandson Rylan become a Marine in 2007. He would always get choked up and teary-eyed when he talked about how proud he was of his grandkids.
Mr McCollum’s loved ones say that he has undeniably left behind a legacy that will be tough to uphold; however, with the magnitude of knowledge, courage, and compassion he has embedded to those he has touched, it will be a privilege to honor him.
His family knows he was especially thankful for Masonicare, his caregiver Sylviane, and the employees at DaVita Housatonic Dialysis for making this last couple of months as comfortable as possible for him.
Respecting Mr McCollum’s wishes, there will be no graveside service or viewing hours. However, family and friends are invited to join in a celebration of life on Sunday, December 17, from noon to 3 pm, at Lorenzo’s Restaurant, 229 Riverside Road, to share memories and stories of the past.
In lieu of flowers, the family will be appreciative of donations made to Navy Marine Corps Relief Society, nmcrs.org, that was near and dear to Mr McCollum’s heart.
Arrangements by Carpino Funera Home, Southbury.