At all but a handful of Portales’ Memorial Day services, and at every single local Veterans Day service since the mid-1980s, the National Anthem has been performed by the distinctive baritone voice of Donald Paschke.
For the past eight years, Paschke has also been a “chronologically gifted” member of ENMU’s University Singers, gamely tackling the risers to take his place among singers a fraction of his age in venues ranging from ENMU’s Buchanan Hall to New York’s Carnegie Hall, with memorable side trips to China, Italy, Germany and Austria.
But with his 84th birthday only weeks away, he says “time and gravity are taking their toll,” and he’s in the process of leaving Portales — his home since 1962 — and moving to a retirement community in Albuquerque.
A public reception for this community icon will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Friday at ENMU’s COPE building (the brick structure in the shadow of the city water tower by Rotary Park).
Jason and Kayla Paulk, the director and accompanist of the ENMU choirs and “Don’s biggest fans,” are spearheading the shindig.
The University Singers will, of course, be there to serenade their beloved mentor.
“Don demonstrates what we constantly try to instill in our students: a love of lifelong learning,” Jason said.
“He’s a walking example of this attribute and completely loves life, music and his interactions with others.”
This I know: He is going to leave a National Anthem-sized hole in our community.
Betty Williamson hates saying goodbye, especially to people as nice as Don Paschke. You may reach her at: