Decorated officer served as diplomat around the world, settled in North Huntingdon
Paul Flebotte’s superior officers often used words like “quiet” and “unassuming” in his performance evaluations.
His mild manners didn’t stop him from becoming a decorated officer who served in some of the military’s top diplomatic positions.
“He was one of the most humble and dedicated individuals, who never sought accolades,” said his son, Shawn Flebotte. “He was the consummate diplomat.”
Col. Paul R. Flebotte of North Huntingdon died Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019. He was 76.
He was born in Springfield, Mass. to the late Rene and Jeannette Flebotte, first-generation Canadian immigrants.
After college, he wanted to become a lawyer, but he couldn’t afford law school, so he became a math teacher for a while before enlisting in the military.
He served one tour in Vietnam, then enrolled in Officers Candidate School and received his commission upon graduation.
He was stationed in Washington, D.C., when he met a schoolteacher who would become his wife.
Shortly after they were married, Mr. Flebotte was sent back to Vietnam for a second tour.
“It was hard, but I just went back to school and kept teaching like I had been doing,” his wife, Kathy Flebotte, said.
After his second stint in Vietnam, Mr. Flebotte went into military intelligence. He and his wife traveled the world as he was made an attache at embassies in Morocco, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia for years at a time.
“We really loved our life overseas,” Mrs. Flebotte said. “We immersed ourselves in the culture of the country where we were.”
Mr. Flebotte read several newspapers a day to keep up with world events.
Shawn Flebotte said growing up in Morocco gave him a unique perspective on the world.
“I got to live what I thought was part of world history, living in the places that you read about in your textbooks,” he said.
Paul Flebotte received many commendations over the course of his career, including the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star with an oak leaf cluster.
“This was his job this was his duty,” Shawn Flebotte said. “But you don’t do this unless you’re a true patriot, as well.”
After Mr. Flebotte retired, he and his wife moved to Cape Cod. They lived there 16 years, the longest they had ever stayed in one place.
They moved to North Huntingdon about seven years ago to be closer to their son and grandchildren.
Even after his retirement, Mr. Flebotte never lost his knack for keeping up with the news.
“He used to spend hours in the Irwin McDonald’s talking world politics and current events with all the philosophers there,” his son said.
Mr. Flebotte is survived by his wife, Kathy; his son, Shawn and his wife, Crystal; and four grandchildren.
A celebration of Paul’s life will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at New Hope Presbyterian Church, 12727 Lincoln Way, North Huntingdon. Interment with full military honors will be in Arlington National Cemetery, Washington, D.C., at a date to be announced. Arrangements were handled by William Snyder Funeral Home.
Memorial contributions can be made to either the American Cancer Society at cancer.org or the Epilepsy Association of Western and Central PA at eawcp.org.
Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jacob at 724-836-6646, [email protected] or via Twitter .