Contributor Paul Duchene: 1948–2022
There should be travelers’ corollary to Oscar Wilde’s famous observation that “a cynic knows the price of everything, but the value of nothing.” There are surely those who know in theory how to get someplace, but don’t have the vaguest idea of why they should go. My recently departed friend/mentor Paul Duchene was not that person. He died last week, at the age of 74.
A British ex-pat living in Portland, he was born with the Captain James Cook/David Livingstone gift of intrepidness. He knew how to get damn near anywhere on the planet, (for Heaven’s sake, he did the whiteout, bonkers ALCAN Winter Rally multiple times), but he was also someone with an almost metaphysical understanding of the “why” that should precede any journey of consequence.
Fifteen years ago, when I was headed back to the Midwest from Portland, Oregon, to start a new consulting firm, he was adamant that I should skip the bulk of I-84 and take U.S. 26 past Mt. Hood to Madras, Oregon. “After Mt. Hood, you won’t see another person for maybe 100 miles, but here’s what you will see … It will add some perspective to your life at a time when I think you could benefit from that. Oh, and the 650+ mile range of your Porsche 912E will come in handy—petrol stations are few and far between.”
As promised, the drive was a self-reflective, life-enriching experience, because Paul knew not just how to get somewhere, but—I’ll stress again—exactly why one should go there in the first place.
Paul was an old-school reporter in the best sense of that term, having spent years writing at the Portland Oregonian. He had very little patience for single-source reporting, which he found to be intolerably lazy and for pieces that he deemed to be fact-free zones, or at least free of the facts that the average reader would find critical. And he certainly felt that if a writer were going to remember to include some facts, he or she damned well ought to check said facts. All of them. “It’s the stuff that you’re absolutely positively certain that you know, that most often gets you in trouble,” was something that he drilled into my head when we both worked at Keith Martin’s Sports Car Market.
When I served as VP of Content at Hagerty from 2009–2015, I hired Paul to write model summaries for Hagerty Valuation Tools. He was great at it, and it’s something that he kept doing up until his untimely passing last week. We always joked about how things tended to hang around on the Web, and that much of our work would likely outlast both of us. Sadly, my friend Paul turned out to be right once again. As he so often was.