Friday, March 31, 2023

Paul Lull – A Basketball Loving, VW Driving Optimist

Coronado High School Basketball Varsity Team 1970 – 1971. Photo courtesy of Paul Lull.

Paul Lull moved to Coronado at the age of 16 in 1969 with his family. He and his sister started Coronado High School the fall of 1969. Paul was a tall and skinny kid, 6’4″, weighing 165 lbs. He made it onto the JV basketball team his junior year, and then Varsity his senior year. He started playing basketball in junior high, and still plays to this day with a local recreational group in Coronado every Saturday. While in high school Paul also worked at the local car wash on 10th and C. With the money he saved, he bought a 1959 red VW bug (convertible) from a local resident for $350. The top speed was only about 45 mph, but that was enough and perfect for the island. When it rained though he had to bail water out from the inside, as the roof was torn, but he still adored the bug.

51st Reunion, CHS Class of 1971. Photo courtesy of Paul Lull.

Paul fell in love with Coronado the very day he first arrived on the island with his parents. His grandfather (Paul Lull, Sr.) was a professor at Purdue University and wanted Paul’s dad (Paul Lull, Jr.) to go into engineering. But his dad’s dream was to be a farmer. So instead he entered the AG school at Purdue, which is what brought Paul’s family west, and eventually to San Diego.

The family moved from Indiana (where they had a farm) to Arizona when Paul was nine years old. His dad took a position as the sales manager of a cotton gin and safflower oil processing plant. Seven years later his father was offered a position in San Diego. The family had visited San Diego several times since relocating to Arizona, and they loved it. But they ironically had never been to Coronado.

When they relocated to San Diego they ended up driving around Coronado one day in awe of the beautiful town, and came upon a house on 1st Street. A woman was there outside working on the landscaping. Paul’s dad got out of the car and started talking with her. The woman’s name was Fran Harpst, “a Coronado legend, and the kindest woman and landlord,” Paul reminisced sweetly. Paul then explained how his dad offered her a deposit so she could hold it until they moved their furniture over. But she simply shook his dad’s hand and Coronado became their home.

Unfortunately when Paul turned 18, his dad was relocated back to Arizona for work. Paul remembers vividly being so heartbroken and not wanting to leave Coronado. But he couldn’t afford to live on his own and go to college. All he could do was think that someday he would be able to move back to the town he held so near and dear to his heart!

When Paul graduated form Arizona State University with a business degree, a friend of his dad offered him a job at the local John Deere farm equipment dealership, and then shortly after he became a sales rep. The company also offered to send him and a colleague to Dale Carnegie sales training to also become instructors, which they did. Paul, who was inspired by his colleague who became one of his best friends (and has now since passed), also got him back into basketball at their local church in Arizona.

Photo courtesy of Paul Lull.

Although fully settled down in Arizona, Paul continued throughout the years to think of Coronado. Arizona had become his permanent home as it was where he met and married his beautiful wife Rebecca (Becky) Lull in 1987. They have four children who are all grown up now, two grandchildren and their dog Frankie. Their kids live all across the county (from Coronado, CA to Gilbert, AZ and Plano, TX to Savannah, GA).

Paul, who never wanted to leave Coronado since the first day he arrived in 1969 with his family, prayed to return one day. He even got a tan vintage VW bug in Arizona that he still has today. He believes for certain that it was with God’s blessing, 44 years later, he and his wife were able to moved to Coronado in 2015.

Photo courtesy of Paul Lull.

Paul knew right away once back in Coronado, his heart was full and he was ready to be a part of the community again; even if almost five decades later. Upon returning, he felt inspired to help the Coronado High School boys basketball team. Their coach at the time, JD Laaperi, gave Paul the opportunity, and what a thrilling homecoming experience it was. Paul was also able to be a part of and help the Islander basketball team win the championship in 2021. He pointed out, “they are one the greatest teams in Islander history.”

In addition to helping the basketball team, when Paul returned, he also joined the Coronado Optimist Club. And what a go getter he has been for the club. With so much energy and passion to help the youth in the community, he is now the President of the Coronado Optimist Club. Paul truly loves the club and its members, because they give and and care so much for youth development. He also said “he knows we can continue do more.” The Coronado Optimist Club supports over 50 youth organizations, from Islander Sports Foundation, and scholarly essay contests, to helping support 6th grade camp in Cuyamaca, and so much more!

I first met Paul when presenting at the Optimist Club during the City Council Forum. After the meeting I mentioned to Paul and a few other members, how impressed I was with everything the Optimist Club did for the youth. I knew about the club, but didn’t realize the entire scope. Paul was so passionate telling me about the club and what they do, of course within minutes I asked, how can I join? So being a new Optimist member, it was an honor when I was asked to do a feature on Paul. And I can definitely say after doing this interview, Paul’s ambition for the club and our community, the sky’s the limit.

Paul is such a fun and caring individual, and a great president to help grow the club, especially after membership went down due to Covid. Paul also recently joined the Coronado Ukulele Club after they played for the club’s holiday parties. He even had them play at the VFW for his 70th birthday party.

If you haven’t met Paul, he is so welcoming and has the biggest heart. He believes everyone can be an optimist, either as a member or friend of the optimist. Reach out to Paul or sign up today, as he so gracefully encourages with a smile, ‘everyone can be an optimist’ — Paul knows first hand that giving back to the community and the youth is one of if not the most important thing we can do to inspire and support the next generation. It really does takes a village.



Pilialoha Estall
Pilialoha Estall
Pilialoha has a diverse background, ranging from non-profits, and experiential marketing, to being an executive event producer, and has a pr agency focused on youth development. She is passionate about helping her community, (a 4th generation Coronadan) and is on the boards for Coronado Schools Foundation, Coronado Band & Choir Boosters, Rady Children’s Hospital - Coronado Auxiliary, and Coronado Flower Association.She loves spending time with her family, golfing with her daughter and friends, and Polynesian dancing! She loves writing (from comedy to novels, you name it). She also has a humble weblog and global podcast PilialohaNow - Building Sustainability, available on all major platforms.Send news tips or story ideas to: [email protected]