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Coroner Paul Cesar loses fight with cancer

Coroner Paul Cesar loses fight with cancer
Coroner Paul Cesar loses fight with cancer
Paul Cesar

Harrison County Coroner Paul Joseph Cesar died Sunday, Dec. 30, at his home in Corydon after a nine-month battle with lung cancer. He was 53.
Cesar was able to celebrate Christmas with his wife, Juanita, and their two children, but began to feel bad again after that. He was diagnosed last March with small cell lung cancer and had undergone various kinds of chemo and radiation therapy since then.
Cesar, a Democrat, was serving his third four-year term as county coroner. He owned Beanblossom-Cesar Funeral Home in Corydon and was treasurer and a board member of the Harrison County Public Library.
“His sole intent was to help people, to take care of them,” said his son, Chad, 28, the funeral director at Beanblossom-Cesar. Chad said his dad was always willing to “give of himself to help others.”
Steve Haggard, Harrison County Democratic Central Committee chair, said Paul Cesar “was a fine man. Anytime he saw you, he had something nice to say. Always asked about the family.
“When he told you he would do something, you could count on him. He always did his jobs well.”
One job Cesar did well was to organize and head up the annual Harrison County Fair parade for many years. “He took a big load off us,” said Haggard, a Harrison County Agricultural Society fair board member and key figure at the county fair.
Paul Cesar came from Wheeling, W.Va., to study at the Kentucky School of Mortuary Science. He worked part-time as an orderly at St. Anthony Hospital in Louisville, he met a nursing student named Juanita Ellen Walker, who would become his wife. Cesar graduated from mortuary school in 1970 and worked at several funeral homes in Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana after that.
In 1983 they bought Joe Steenbergen’s funeral home in Corydon in 1983. “Mom and Dad built their lives from nothing. They had nothing when they first moved here,” Chad said.
Corydon Town Council President Fred Cammack worked next door, at Town Hall, to Cesar’s funeral home for about 15 years, and the two talked often.
“He was just a great guy,” Cammack said yesterday. “No matter how busy he was, he always had a moment for a joke or a funny story about the events at hand, and he never hesitated to give his opinion — I mean a good-natured opinion — whenever he thought I’d done something backward.
“And I’ll say this about Paul: He would go to the absolute limit to assist someone who was less fortunate but who Paul thought was doing their best to succeed in life.”
A native of Wheeling, born Oct. 3, 1948, Cesar was the son of Mary Ann Joseph Cesar of Corydon and the late William Thomas Cesar.
Cesar was a member of the Harrison County Democratic Party, Corydon Rotary Club, Corydon Kiwanis Club, Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, National Funeral Directors Association, the old Hardee’s Breakfast Club, Indiana State Coroner’s Association, and St. Joseph Catholic Church.
He was preceded in death by a sister, Beverly Ann Kruzeski.
Survivors besides his mother include his wife of 31 years, the former Juanita Ellen Walker; their son, Chad Joseph Cesar of Corydon; their daughter, Leanne Marie Shehorn of Corydon; a sister, Rita Ann Castle of Wheeling; and six grandchildren.
Visitation was yesterday and today (Wednesday) after 8 a.m. at Beanblossom-Cesar Funeral Home in Corydon.
The funeral will be today at 1 p.m. at the funeral home with burial in Cedar Hill Cemetery. Father Ken Gehring and the Revs. Neal Kentch, Richard Ryan and Mike Clark will officiate.
The family suggests memorial gifts to the Paul J. Cesar Memorial Scholarship fund in care of Community First Bank in Corydon.
Pallbearers will be Chad Cesar, Rodney Shehorn, Keith Castle, Joe Thomas, Eddie Noon and Dr. Leonard Waite.
Democrats will pick next coroner
Harrison County Democratic Party leaders will meet at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 10, at the Harrison County Court House in Corydon to discuss the details of a caucus to select Cesar’s successor. “Anyone who is interested in the job should show up at that meeting,” said party chair Steve Haggard.