A Life Well-Lived: Remembering Paula

Paula Joy Hewitt

December 26, 1946 – May 28, 2019

Paula Joy Hewitt was born Dec 26, 1946, in Hemet, CA, the daughter of Robert Matthew Hewitt and Patsy Saranan (Mather) Hewitt. She was the second of four children, three girls and a boy.  Her oldest sister, Kay, died of leukemia when she was 4 years old. Lorrie Dawn and Robert Scott were her younger siblings. 

Paula (far right) was the second of four children. Her older sister died of leukemia when she was just fou years old.

Paula loved all things outdoors. She joined the Girl Scouts at a young age and continued to have an affiliation with them her entire life. She loved hiking and backpacking. Most people don’t know she was a bird watcher.

Paula played the clarinet in the high school marching band, as did her sister Lorrie. They loved the oldies – like Johnny Mathis and Andy Williams – and had lots of fun dancing in the living room. They hated the Beetles. 

During those years, Paula learned the guitar and played tennis. She worked on the school newspaper and year-book staffs. She was a good student and graduated from Hemet High School in 1964. Paula then pursued her university education at both Long Beach State and San Diego State, graduating in 1969 with a B.A. in Social Welfare. She was a member of the Delta Omicron Epsilon service sorority.

From a young age, Paula was driven to change the world.

Her caring heart combined with an adventurous spirit when, in 1968, she joined the Peace Corps and served in an orphanage in Turkey for two years. Her heart was broken for the children, the conditions in which they lived, and the calloused attitude of the orphan care system in that country.

Upon returning from Turkey in 1971, she worked for the School for the Deaf in Riverside and also began to work for the Girl Scout Council of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties in California. In 1972, Paula moved to Oregon where she worked for the Santiam Girl Scout Council in Oregon as a Field Advisor and Director of the Whispering Winds Girl Scout Camp in Philomath. 

In February of 1973, Paula made the most important decision of her life, to follow the Lord Jesus Christ with all of her heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Her life radically changed; she finally discovered her ultimate purpose. In a June 1973 letter to family, she described her new life in this way:

“I have accepted Christ as the Way and He has filled my life so much these past few months. The willingness to let God guide and direct my life has come slowly – and I’m still learning how to do that. But His plan for me is perfect and good. Knowing this makes me peaceful and calm inside.  He will give me unwanted tasks, problems that seem unsolvable. He will let me make mistakes because I will forget and try to take things into my own hands. Most of all, though, He will show me His love and kindness which is beyond compare. Thank you, Lord. Let me learn to be joyful in everything. I will trust in you.”

Paula spent the year 1975 studying at Multnomah School of the Bible in Portland and then moved to Corvallis and worked for Evans Products until in 1978 she joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ and moved to San Bernardino, CA. She took Crusade’s Agape International Training and served as secretary for that program in Los Angeles. She was one of five white members of Prosperity Baptist Church, a lively African- American congregation where she worked with and discipled women. She loved being a part of that community. Her Campus Crusade service concluded 1989 and she moved back to Oregon.

Paula was a lover of the great outdoors and enjoyed setting off on adventures.

Paula resumed her involvement with NW Hills Community Church, and worked as a secretary for the church for several years until the late 90’s when she was invited to serve as the Director of Adult Ministries at Calvin Presbyterian Church, a position she held until she deciding to once again serve the Lord overseas.

Paul enjoyed many adventures in Latvia with Carol Andresen (middle) and Katie Andresen (right).

Paula first went to Latvia in 1999 as part of an outreach project involving Bridge Builders International, Calvin Presbyterian Church, and a small congregation near the Russian border of Latvia, Tilza. Her heart was deeply touched as she began to dream of completing her career of service in Latvia.

In fact, the moment she first stepped on Latvian soil she felt a deep desire to move to Latvia and serve for the rest of her life.

Beginning in 1999, Paula served on the board of directors of Bridge Builders International until 2006. She chaired the board her last two years. That same year, Paula was commissioned to Latvia by both Calvin Presbyterian Church and Bridge Builders International as a missionary. 

She worked primarily with children and personal discipleship in that same tiny town of Tilza.  She was available every afternoon to read to little ones from the large orphanage/boarding school in that town. Her relational skills were put to good use as she established many important relationships with women of all ages. She was known as a prayer warrior. 

Paula absolutely loved working with children and teens.

After five years of service in Latvia, she learned about the tens of thousands of Latvians who were living and working in Ireland, so she moved to Dublin where she helped a Latvian Lutheran Church, discipled women and taught English using the New Testament. When the Irish government refused to renew her visa, she returned to Corvallis about three years ago.  

Though her health was failing, she continued to serve BBI in ministries of prayer, caring, and communication until the end of her life. What a person does in life is extremely important. But even more important is who she is… her character… her essence.

Here are some words that loved ones have used to describe Paula as a person.

  • Focused
  • Relational – for her, people were always more important than jobs or money. 
  • Always smiling
  • Tenacious or should we say… Stubborn. 
  • Obedient – from her youngest years, Paula always followed the rules.
  • Integrity – honest no matter the cost.
  • Independent and Adventurous – when she turned 50, she went to England alone with her backpack… to backpack the whole of the country.
  • Servant-leader (she gave of herself fully in every context where she had leadership responsibility…Girl Scouts, Peace Corps, Campus Crusade, NW Hills Church, Calvin Presbyterian Church, Bridge Builders International… in Latvia and Ireland.

When Paula was near death, her sister, Lorrie, and other dear friends surrounded her hospital bed and prayed, sang, and listened to beautiful music. Her most recent favorite song was “I Can Only Imagine” which is about heaven. It was played and sung both before and just after she passed away… with great heart. The lyrics are below.

Paula was preceded in death by her father, Robert Matthew Hewitt and mother, Patsy Saranan (Mather) Hewitt, her sister Kay and her niece Christel Joy.  She is survived by her sister, Lorrie Dawn Conley and brother, Robert Hewitt, and 9 nieces and nephews and 25 great nieces and nephews.

Paula at Eagle’s Wings Camp and Sheep Farm with Essie Roth.

A Celebration of Life Service will be held in Paula’s memory at Calvin Presbyterian Church on Sunday, August 11th, at 4 pm.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Bridge Builders International for the Paula Joy Hewitt Memorial Fund.  P.O. Box 1472, Wheaton, IL 60187.  Donate online –www.bridgebuildersint.com/paula


I Can Only Imagine by Bart Marshall Millard

I can only imagine what it will be like
When I walk, by your side
I can only imagine what my eyes will see
When your face is before me
I can only imagine

I can only imagine

Surrounded by Your glory
What will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus
Or in awe of You be still
Will I stand in your presence
Or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah
Will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine
I can only imagine

I can only imagine when that day comes
When I find myself standing in the Son
I can only imagine when all I would do is forever
Forever worship You
I can only imagine
I can only imagine

Surrounded by Your glory
What will my heart feel
Will I dance for You, Jesus
Or in awe of you be still
Will I stand in your presence
Or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah
Will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine
I can only imagine hey ya ah

Surrounded by Your glory
What will my heart feel
Will I dance for You, Jesus
Or in awe of you be still
Will I stand in Your presence
Or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah
Will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine
I can only imagine hey ya ah

I can only imagine yeah yeah
I can only imagine

I can only imagine ey ey ey
I can only imagine

I can only imagine when all I will do
Is forever, forever worship You
I can only imagine

7 Comments

  1. What a remarkable life! And one so completely given to helping others come to know the wonderful God she served so joyfully. . . certainly an example to all of us.

  2. I will always cherish the privilege of serving alongside Paula on the BBI board. Her passion to help the vulnerable and weak was so evident in both words and actions. Her cheerful and positive demeanor revealed a heart that was passionate about loving and serving the Christ who bought her with His own blood.

  3. She was my wonderful Auntie Paula and her life is an inspiration.

  4. I watch and loved the Hewitt family as I grew up with Lorrie, I was lucky to be within their household and see the love, enjoy and the presence of God in their lives. I am sad that Paula has gone but glad at her reward. Through love and obedience Paula’s Faith and Service touched a multitude. Rest in peace dear sister

  5. Sharon G. Rose

    I knew Paula as a child and she was a fun-loving, fair, honest child way back then. She has always been admirable and loveable. Didn’t know much about her adult life but it seems she kept her values and lived a noble life. God bless her and her family and I’ll remember you dancing with the angels!!

  6. Paula, my beautiful sister, I will miss you. We had many great times growing up. You made a remarkable life for yourself, helping others who needed a helping hand. That is how I will always remember you. You made a difference in so many lives. I love you.

  7. So sad to hear about Paula…thank You Laurie, for contacting Lois….Paula, Kathy, and I were the 3 mouseketeers at heart all thru school, best friends. Loved her so much, we only kept in touch thru Hemet High events, and occasional emails when she was traveling about the world, but when we met up, it was old times and lots of love and laughter…..my love to you and little bro Robert…….she will be missed by many, and was very well loved….Kerry

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