Paul Dewar, 66, died suddenly of natural causes April 11, and although he had lived in White Plains for only about four years, Dewar and his German shepherd, “Frank,” had become like family to the employees and customers at Oxford’s Starbucks.
Most any morning, Dewar and Frank could be found posted on the patio at the coffee shop, Dewar with his military-issued tin cup full of tea and his backpack with dog treats for his buddy.
Friend and fellow customer Samantha Smith talked about Dewar’s unwavering respect for women, and how he’d always stand up when she came near, and offer to bring her a coffee from inside.
Smith said the two talked often about life and about their shared love of animals.
“He loved that dog. Frank was his world,” Smith said after Dewar’s memorial service Wednesday afternoon. Frank was a gift to Dewar from a former Starbucks manager, and since his death has moved in with an employee of the coffee shop.
And though Dewar always wore a hat denoting his status as a veteran, they almost never talked about Dewar’s time in the U.S. Marines, Smith said.
Dewar received two Purple Hearts and 16 Air Medals as a door-gunner in Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 361 during the Vietnam War.
Like almost everyone at his service Wednesday — save for several family members who drove down from New Jersey — those who came to pay their respects had met Dewar at Starbucks.
Steve Cotton met Dewar shortly after he moved to Alabama, and like Smith, said his friend took respect for women seriously, and wouldn’t mind setting other people straight if they didn’t.
Cotton said he takes his mother to Starbucks often, and almost always opens the door for her, but “not all the time.”
On one visit with his mother Cotton failed to open the door for his mother, and Dewar took notice.
“He walked out to the car with his cane, tapped on the side of my car and said ‘Son, next time you come in with her you’ll be opening the car door coming and going,’” Cotton said.
Dewar’s nephew, Raymond Dewar, said that his uncle was a bit of a loner, and was hard to stay in touch with over the years, but that he was happy to learn that “family is what he got here. I’m glad he found people out here.”
Smith said there just aren’t many people like Dewar left in the world.
“He was just a generally good human being. He was an old-school gentleman,” Smith said. “He was very content in his life and where he was at.”
Like all those that spoke of him during his memorial service — people who only knew him a short time — they spoke about Dewar’s endearing kindness. They spoke as if they’d lost a brother or a father.
“He was no relation to any of us, but we all loved him,” Smith said.
Staff writer Eddie Burkhalter: 256-235-3563. On Twitter @Burkhalter_Star.