Retired English professor Sharon Paquin, who taught English and American studies on campus for 12 years, passed away April 5. She was 75.
Born October 13, 1945, in Upstate New York, she graduated from Peru High School and moved to Oroville where her father worked on the construction of the Oroville Dam. She enrolled at Chico State and completed her bachelor’s degree in English in 1968. After several years away—including a two-year stint teaching at the Rough Rock Demonstration School on a Navajo reservation and teaching in Santa Fe, New Mexico—Paquin returned to Chico State and earned her master’s degree in English in 1982.
She was hired by the University as a faculty member in the English Department in 1986. During her tenure on campus, she served on several committees and partnered with friends and colleagues to start a local chapter of the California Poets in the Schools, serving five counties in public schools in Northern California.
“Sharon was a bright light, beautiful inside and out, smart and kind, a great teacher, and a joy to be around,” said retired English professor Carol Burr. “She was a team player, sharing her ideas and strategies for reaching the students and helping them harness their potential.”
Paquin knew how to make material interesting, helping students build on the life experiences they brought to her classes to create compelling pieces, Burr said. She also had a strong sense of fairness and fought for equitable treatment of adjunct faculty.
Paquin’s time at Chico State also cultivated her lasting passion for writing, teaching, human rights, and environmental conservation. And for much of her life, she enjoyed a journey into self-discovery and spirituality that led her to become an early member and eventual board president of what is now the Center for Spiritual Living in Chico.
After she retired in 1998, Paquin and her husband moved to Manton. There, she contributed her talents and energy to serving as the coordinator of the Battle Creek Watershed Conservancy, a group of local landowners dedicated to preserving the environmental and economic resources of the Battle Creek watershed, and helped develop the River of Words program at the Manton Joint Union and Black Butte Union Elementary Schools, using poetry and art to teach watershed education. She also relished hiking in Lassen Volcanic National Park, tending her garden, and taking walks on their 20-acre property.
She is survived by her husband of 35 years, Steve Gilmore; children Travis, Erin, Daebin, and Ian; siblings Joanne, Barbara, Philip, Jeffrey, and Clarke; and numerous grandchildren, nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews.
A memorial will be held from 2–4 p.m. on June 19 at Lakeside Pavilion in Chico, followed by a celebration of life. Guests are asked to please wear masks. Her family requests that memorial contributions be made in her name to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. Those not able to attend the memorial who would like to share thoughts and memories of Paquin can sign the online guest book provided by Bidwell Chapel.
The University flag will be lowered Thursday, May 20, in her memory.