Cover photo for Arnold Erik “Jake” Paulson's Obituary
Arnold Erik “Jake” Paulson Profile Photo
1934 Arnold Erik “Jake” Paulson 2023

Arnold Erik “Jake” Paulson

April 11, 1934 — October 7, 2023

Lynchburg

Arnold E. Paulson, known by all as Jake, passed away peacefully at home on October 7, surrounded by family.

 

Born during the height of the Dust Bowl years, the sixth of seven children, Jake grew up on the Paulson family farm in Lindsborg, Kansas, a small city, now known as “Little Sweden USA,” which has retained its strong Swedish identity and is home to the biennial Svensk Hyllningsfest.

 

However, since 1957, when he was recruited by Babcock & Wilcox at a campus job fair as one of the first graduates in Kansas State University’s nascent nuclear engineering program, Jake has called Lynchburg home. In 1961, he married Sara Lee Wilson, a graduate of Randolph Macon Women’s College, and raised five children here.

 

Passionate about nuclear energy to the point of getting together with colleagues to design small reactors on his days off, Jake worked for B&W for 20 years, as an onsite nuclear engineer and a trainer for other engineers throughout the Southeast and abroad. He is listed as a contributor on many B&W patents. From its inception, he was an engineer on the N.S. Savannah, the first US nuclear-powered passenger ship, and nuclear advisor to the captain during many voyages. From an observation deck, Jake stood duty “on view” in the ship’s exposed reactor control room to acquaint passengers with the promise of nuclear energy. The interior design of the N.S. Savannah is a must-see, exuding the same bold optimism as the TWA Flight Center at JFK, and since the ship’s pressurized water reactor was built here, it remains an important part of Lynchburg’s history as well.

 

At age 50, Jake retired from B&W, but continued working as a consultant, developing monitoring systems to increase efficiency and detect energy loss in nuclear reactors. Several years later, he opened his own financial advisory firm, collaborating with software engineers to develop investment tools. He worked until the age of 86.

 

He is survived by his children: Thomas E. Paulson, MD, Jennifer Paulson Lee (William), Dianna Lynn Christopher (Thomas), Sara Elisabeth “Lissa” Paulson, and Glenn Barnette Paulson; nine grandchildren, one great-grandchild, many nieces and nephews; and, his former wife, Sara Wilson Paulson.

 

He loved his early 20th century stucco house, his porch ferns, the colossal Green Ash tree in his backyard, and Smith Mountain Lake. An avid K-State fan, his basement was a beloved third space for neighbors and friends to gather and watch college football. He was a loyal father and a member of the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church and choir for 66 years.

 

The funeral service and reception will be held at noon on November 11 at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, the greenstone church on Langhorne Road, where his ashes will be interred in the columbarium beneath the shade of several historic trees.

 

Donations in his memory can be made to the N.S. Savannah Society.

 

Tharp Funeral Home, Lynchburg is assisting the family.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Arnold Erik “Jake” Paulson, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Funeral Service

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Starts at 12:00 pm (Eastern time)

The funeral service and reception will be held at noon on November 11 at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, the greenstone church on Langhorne Road, where his ashes will be interred in the columbarium beneath the shade of several historic trees.

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