by John Boch
It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Paul H. Vallandigham, a long-time gun rights giant in Illinois.
Mr. Vallandigham was a life member of the NRA, a former director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, as well as a founding member of Guns Save Life’s predecessor organization and has served continuously as an officer or director since then. He was currently as a director as well as the corporate counsel of Guns Save Life.
As an attorney in his professional life, he was a member of the Illinois Bar and the US District Court, Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of the United States Bars. He had served both as a public defender and as a special prosecutor in addition to his work in private practice.
Mr. Vallandigham passed away the last week of September in his living room, cleaning the guns he appreciated and valued so much along with the rights they represented and symbolized.
He worked tirelessly to promote civil rights not only by educating the general population through his promotion of basic civil rights, but also in his work as a Hunter Safety instructor, NRA firearms instructor and a Boating Safety instructor. He was a many-times published author on a host of topics from firearms to tracking.
We loved Paul and his eagerness to share his vast knowledge on a host of topics. We sometimes teased him that he was too eager to share, but we certainly appreciated his encyclopedic knowledge base which came in handy more times than we can count.
He held an appreciation for antique and custom-made firearms and shared that enthusiasm eagerly. He loved to attend the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association’s events at Friendship, IN and would hound us to accompany him – even those of us who carry plastic guns and eschew wooden stocks.
He was constantly giving of his time and expertise, willingly and eagerly.
For me personally, Paul taught me a great deal and was a true friend, both personally and professionally as Guns Save Life’s counsel. On those days when I received correspondence threatening lawsuits, Paul was right there to help explain how hollow the threats were. Paul was a reassuring voice in my corner. He patiently explained the nuances of the law and made them easy to understand. He also offered advice and guidance for me to have a little fun using those threatening missives against the attorneys who issued them or their clients.
Paul helped shape many of us in Guns Save Life over the years as well. We, as individuals, officers, and board members, operate Guns Save Life much more like the professional corporation it is and less like an old-boys club thanks to Paul’s wise counsel.
Paul also was a driving force getting a number of us to get training and become firearms instructors.
Paul is why I took a week off work nearly 15 years ago to take Massad Ayoob’s pricey Lethal Force Institute handgun class. Paul knew the instructor Ayoob personally and raved over the course’s content. He was spot on, as usual, in his evaluation of the course.
He encouraged a number of us to become NRA firearms instructors. Once we started teaching, he was there to help us all become better instructors in so many ways, especially with novices and ladies.
And while sometimes some of us disagreed with Paul, I know of not one time when Paul was wrong. His wise counsel was always spot on, even if it wasn’t evident right away.
Paul’s contributions to Guns Save Life are many and have helped shape the organization as we have grown from a half-dozen people meeting in the basement of a restaurant to a strong and vibrant regional gun rights group with well-attended monthly meetings in different parts of the state and messages that reach many millions of people each year.
We’ll certainly miss Paul – a man who gave so freely of his time, insightful knowledge and ideas.
Special note: Paul’s twin brother Peter has indicated that Paul’s two young-adult cats are in need of a new home, as soon as possible. If you have room in your family for a one or both cats, or know someone who would like to add to their family, please contact us as soon as possible.
A memorial service is being planned for Tuesday, October 9th at the Knights of Columbus, 1001 N. Ohio Street in Rantoul at 5:00 p.m.
Please stop by and join Paul’s friends and family for a celebration of his life and accomplishments.
Dinner will be available around 6:00pm.
Those wishing to stay for the regular monthly meeting of the organization that was so much a part of Paul’s life are encouraged to do so.