Saenger, Shoreham board chair, dies after illness

SHOREHAM — Shoreham residents are mourning the loss of their selectboard chairman, Paul Saenger, who died on Oct. 5 after a lengthy battle with cancer.
Former Selectwoman Karen Shackett has been appointed to serve the balance of Saenger’s one-year term, which will be up for grabs next March on Town Meeting Day.
Saenger, 59, had been in his 10th year on the selectboard at the time of his death. He resigned around two weeks prior to his passing when his failing health would not permit him to attend meetings.
“The selectboard should have a full complement of members willing and able to serve the Shoreham community and while willing, I do not think I am able,” he wrote in his letter of resignation.
“Serving the residents of Shoreham has been a huge honor for me and I thank them for giving me the opportunity to serve,” the letter continues. “We live in an incredible community. While certainly a diverse one in terms of economic, political and lifestyle, the citizens have maintained civility with one another. And this may be what I admire most. I think our citizens agree to disagree and then go to the Inn for drinks with each other afterwards.”
Saenger also commended his fellow residents for their generous donations to civic causes and their dedication to each other, through fire, rescue and other activities.
“Thank you again for the opportunity to serve the fine residents of Shoreham,” Saenger’s letter concluded.
Shoreham selectboard Vice Chairman Steve Goodrich joined the board at the same time as Saenger back in 2004. He joked about Saenger’s proclivity for running for one-year terms, as opposed to two- or three-year installments.
“He figured if people wanted him out, he could be out in a year,” Goodrich recalled with a chuckle.
He will remember Saenger as someone who was “very well-spoken” with a great grasp of Shoreham’s history and the issues it has taken on. Goodrich was particularly impressed with Saenger’s leadership in presiding over recent, emotionally charged meetings related to the Vermont Gas pipeline proposal.
“He offered us something that will be very hard to replace,” Goodrich said.
Saenger grew up in Illinois and his family came to Vermont in 1982, when he took a teaching, research and extension position at the University of Vermont. They moved to Shoreham in 1988 and would transform the Cream Hill Farm into the largest beef feeding facility in the Northeast.  In 2006, Saenger became captain of the Carillon cruise boat, which sailed out of Larrabee’s Point offering entertaining history lessons to its guests.
The family was slated to host a gathering in Paul’s honor at the family home in Shoreham this past Saturday, Oct. 11.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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