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George Paulson  WWII


May 6, 1926 - August 6, 2013

George Paulson was of that generation that built this country into what it is today, and he literally did his part. Paulson, 87, died Wednesday at his home.


A World War II veteran, Paulson attended Thomas Jefferson High School but dropped out to join the U.S. Marine Corps prior to graduation. His son, Marc Paulson, said his dad was eager to fight the Japanese after the Pearl Harbor attack, so he forged his parents signatures and joined the Marine Corps as a 17-year-old.


“Dad used to say that the Marine recruiter guaranteed him he would get next to the Japanese (in combat),” Marc said. “And dad said, ‘It was the only time the Marines didn’t lie to me.’”

After training on the Big Island of Hawaii, Paulson was sent to battle on Iwo Jima, where he lost his leg in combat on March 9, 1945. He always called that day the luckiest day of his life.

“He was with a bunch of other young kids; he felt lucky to get off that island alive,” Marc said.

When he returned to the U.S., the government gave him a car with an automatic transmission because of his injury, and Paulson was able to take advantage of the G.I. Bill, even though he had never officially graduated from high school.

After starting at the University of Omaha, Paulson transferred to Iowa State University where he received his degree in civil engineering. He got a job offer immediately to help build the Mormon Bridge, Marc Paulson said.

“He invented and built a wooden concrete screed machine and supervised the pouring of the deck,” Marc said. “After that project, he had a lot of job offers.”

Paulson would take a few of those jobs, but in 1949 he broke out on his own.

“He bought an old Dodge flatbed truck, a wheelbarrow and a shovel and stuck a Paulson Construction sign on the door of the truck,” Marc said.

Paulson and his wife, Lubi, ran the business until their retirement, building a number of buildings around Council Bluffs. Lubi passed away earlier this year; the two were married for 63 years.


Marc Paulson said his father cared about the community and his family. Paulson served on many business and community boards, including as president of the Council Bluffs Business Association and the Council Bluffs School Board. Paulson was dedicated to improving conditions for all the citizens of Council Bluffs, his son said.

While he lost a leg to war and used an artificial leg for most of his adult life, Paulson was not the kind of person to complain about his situation.

“He was tough, like a lot of old timers,” Marc said, but he was also a caring father, businessman and community servant.

“He was like a million other guys,” Marc said. “I was just fortunate enough to have him as my dad.”

Paulson is survived by his sister Mary Alencich and her husband, Steve; and brother Nick and wife, Mary Ann; and sons Marc and wife, Ramona, Steve and wife Janna, and daughter Annie Gillespie and husband, Carroll “Trey”; grandchildren Nathan and Nicholas Paulson, and Ian and Lauren Ann Gillespie.


Visitation is tonight from 6 to 8 p.m. and funeral service is Friday at 1 p.m. Both will be held at Cutler-O’Neill-Meyer-Woodring Bayliss Park Chapel. Paulson will be laid to rest with his wife at Walnut Hill Cemetery.

George Paulson Salute

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