This Book of Memories memorial website is designed to be a permanent tribute paying tribute to the life and memory of Paul Tappenden. It allows family and friends a place to re-visit, interact with each other, share and enhance this tribute for future generations. We are both pleased and proud to provide the Book of Memories to the families of our community.

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Obituary for Paul R. Tappenden

Paul R.  Tappenden

Paul Richard Tappenden was born in post-war London on March 23,1947, the only son of Arthur Henry and Edith Emily Tappenden. He is a graduate of Milton Keynes College, a division of Oxford University, where he obtained his teaching degree. He taught in England for a few years before teaching in Bermuda from 1972 to 1975. He loved teaching and it remained a part of his entire life. In March of 1973, he met the love of his life, Kathy, and they quickly became best friends, which they were until he passed.

Paul is survived by his wife of 45 years, Kathy (Nallan) and was a loving father to his daughter, Kelly. He was very fond of his brother-in-law, Kevin Nallan and his fiancée, Cindy Kunz, as well as his niece, Megan (Nallan) Smith and her husband, Steve, their two children, Cole and Jordyn, and his two nephews, Michael and Brendan Nallan. Although his immediate family is small, there are also many cousins and hundreds of friends all over the world.

As a musician, Paul was part of the London Jazz scene in the late 1960s. Over the summers during the next few years, he and his traveling partner, John Sutton, traveled across the US and Canada, each time staying at an Apache reservation in Arizona. This culminated with a year-long trip in which they traveled throughout the entire continent of South America. Starting in New York with a rented car, they dropped it off in Texas, and from there they walked down one side of the southern continent till they reached Tierra del Fuego and then back up the other, finally landing in Bermuda. There, he drew on his musician’s experience and began to repair musical instruments. In about six months, he worked his way out of a job, having repaired every instrument on the tiny island!

After Paul left Bermuda, he arrived in New York to stay with Kathy, but due to immigration problems had to return to England, and Kathy went with him. They worked in England for a while and then moved onto Germany selling encyclopedias door to door to the American military. As winter set in, they returned to England where they married in December of 1976. They soon came back to New York, finally putting the immigration problems behind them.

Paul began his career as an visual artist at that point, doing intricately detailed house portraits in pen and ink, oil paintings and etchings. The couple lived in various places on Long Island - Roslyn, Freeport and East Quogue. While out in the Hamptons, Paul joined Local 829, United Scenic Artists union. He worked on films, Broadway plays, and commercials. This was an exciting and very lucrative career which spanned over 20 years. He worked on such classic films as Cotton Club, Legal Eagles and Trading Places, among many, many others. For quite a few years he was also known as the “King of Commercials.”

The Tappendens arrived in Nyack in 1979, where the commute to NYC was more reasonable than traveling from the Hamptons. They became enamored with this wonderful community and the beauty of the area, and it has been home to them ever since. Aside from working as a scenic artist, Paul always had a studio for his own artwork and was a very popular Nyack artist. His Nyack scenes are beloved by anyone who loves Nyack.

It was in Nyack that their daughter, Kelly, was born in 1981, who eventually became his greatest student. She is very fortunate to have inherited many of his special talents.

In the mid 1990s, Tappenden began his decorative painting business, The Big Picture, which dealt in all types of faux painting such as marbleizing, wood graining and murals - all techniques he was able to perfect as a scenic artist. It was very successful, providing employment to lots of young people and allowing Paul to travel to Australia and Japan. It was during this time that he reached back to his love of teaching and worked with students at Nyack High School to create a series of murals, which still hang in the High School today. Sadly, his kidneys failed in 1996. He kept working as long as he could, until dialysis took over his life and the long five-year wait for a transplant began. Fortunately, a kidney donation came his way in August of 2001 and he has been an active artist, community member, forager and author for the past 20 years. Immediately after the transplant, he began painting murals for both private clients and his beloved Nyack. His donations include one at Nyack Hospital (destroyed in a flood) and a beautiful Nyack perspective which adorns Nyack Village Hall. Another very popular venue are the murals that surround the beautiful outdoor dining area at LaFontana Restaurant.

As soon as he was on his feet, having retired from United Scenic Artists, he began yet another career as a fine artist. He moved his art supplies into a huge studio at the Garnerville Arts Center (GAGA) where he spent many happy and productive years executing his most creative endeavors. He was among the many creative people who also had studios in the same building, and he often worked in collaboration with other very talented artists. During that period of time he was a member of The Art in Public Places Committee, ACOR, Rockland Center for the Arts, Haverstraw’s Chamber of Commerce, among many others. He won many awards during that time including the County Executives Art Award and Artist of the Year from the Haverstraw Arts Alliance. During those years, he was published in every local paper and magazine, including being a regular contributor to Rivertown Magazine. Unfortunately, when the recession hit in 2008, the studio was forced to close, ending another chapter to his life.

Within a year, he pivoted again and decided to pursue another lifelong passion - plant life. He learned everything there was to know about wild edibles - their nutritional value, what medicinal properties they had and he became "The Rockland Forager." He spent many, many hours taking anyone with an interest out for a walk - to a nearby farm or to a local park - educating them about how to identify and how to use the plant life that grows all around us. From this, the Suburban Foragers were born. This group of like-minded foragers gathered regularly - foraging, building fires, erecting natural shelters - anything that involved survival skills. Every year they would hold a Foragers Thanksgiving, where everyone would bring a delicious dish made entirely of foraged plants that grow in our own backyards. Paul was a fabulous cook and a very good baker, often making his own flour from things like acorns, and coffee from dandelion roots.

In his 70s, he reinvented himself one more time - as an author. He was the successful author of two books, The Edible Plants of Nyack and The Edible Plants of Nyack and Beyond. They are both guides to finding and cooking wild plants, most of which can be found around the world.

Paul worked for many years with the Ramapough Indians as well as the Mohawk Nation near Canada. He was helping them restore the medicine through plants that they had lost over the years. He worked along side with his good friend, Dr. Chuck Stead, who have always had the best interests of these two nations in their hearts.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Munsee Three Sisters Farm, 290 Route 206, Newton, NJ 07860. The contact person is Michaeline Picaro. The farm will be establishing a native plant herb garden in Paul’s name.

Future plans include an art show of Paul’s work and a Celebration of his Life.
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