The five boys shared a small bedroom in a four-room house. From spring through fall, they slept outside in a small, screened porch. His grandmother and two uncles lived in the same family compound. His father hoped that all five sons would become Lutheran ministers; two of them did. "Confirmation was a big event in my family; birthdays weren't a big event," Paul says. His mother, Margaret, urged her sons to read and get an education.
"I would say that probably from the cradle, their ethic was work and church. That was it," says Carol Paul, the candidate's wife of 50 years. "They weren't a family that played a lot. Everything was serious."
The family lived two miles from the local high school. Although there was a bus to school, Paul preferred to run. He won the state championship in the 220-yard dash and ranked No. 2 in the 440-yard run in Pennsylvania. "He knew he was obligated to do with his God-given body the best he could," says Mrs. Paul. They met in high school at a track meet and married in his last year at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pa., where he studied biology.
Paul says he briefly considered becoming a Lutheran minister, but opted instead for medicine. He graduated from Duke University Medical School in Durham, N.C., in 1961, and was just starting a residency in internal medicine when he was drafted into the US Air Force. From 1963 to 1965, he served as a flight surgeon, then moved to Texas to practice obstetrics. As an OB/GYN, he has delivered more than 4,000 babies.