Paull H. Shin: First Korean American elected to state Legislature advocated for education, trade, economic development

Paull Shin

Dr. Paull H. Shin, who served in the 21st Legislative District for many years, died peacefully in his home April 12, 2021. He and his family have been residents of Edmonds since 1968.

Dr. Shin was the first Korean American elected to the Washington State Legislature, where he served for 18 years. He was born in Korea in 1935. He lost his family at an early age and survived, often begging for food on the streets of Seoul until the outbreak of the Korean war in 1950, at which point he became a houseboy for a group of U.S. Army officers. In 1954 one of them, a dentist named Dr. Ray Paull, adopted him and brought him to his home in Utah.

Despite knowing little English, Dr. Shin completed his GED in 18 months, went on to earn his BA in Political Science from Brigham Young University, an MPIA from the University of Pittsburgh, and both an MA & PHD from the University of Washington. Dr. Shin was an American & Asian history professor at Shoreline Community College for 31 years, during which time he served several governors in many advisory capacities.

He was a staunch advocate for education, trade, economic development, and strong families. He worked tirelessly to help disadvantaged and marginalized populations to achieve the American dream. He encouraged students, immigrants and young people everywhere to get involved in local government and become a positive force for progress and change. Dr. Shin during his life was also very active serving in the Korean American community, many worthy organizations, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, where he served as a missionary and Mission President of the Korea, Seoul mission.

Dr. Shin is survived by his wife Donna, two children and their spouses, five grandsons and spouses, three great grandchildren so far, his adopted American family, his Korean family of four brothers and their spouses and children, one sister and spouse and children, and many wonderful friends.

In lieu of flowers, donations to Mukilteo Boys & Girls Club, Veterans of Foreign Wars or World Vision would be greatly appreciated.

13 Replies to “Paull H. Shin: First Korean American elected to state Legislature advocated for education, trade, economic development”

  1. A truly great American. I will always remember having the opportunity to meet and talk to Dr. Shin. What a wonderful story he had to tell. My sympathy goes out to his family. He will truly be missed.

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  2. I express my sincere condolences to his family and loved ones. I also pray that he will be comfortable and peaceful of our loving Heavenly Father within his another life.

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  3. We can witness to Dr. Shinn’s support for education. He came to our school, Madison Elementary in Everett, several times to speak at our Veterans Day assemblies while he was a state Legislator. He inspired our students and I’m sure he inspired many of his our students while he was teaching. Our sympathy goes out to his family and our gratefulness to him as a citizen of Washington state. He was exactly the kind of role model we need for our students.

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  4. RIP Paull. A former member of the Rotary Cub of Edmonds Daybreakers, Paull could always be counted on to put a few bucks in the Happy Bucks kitty with the comment, “For an Edmonds Kind of Day.” A warm, welcoming associate; we mourn his passing.

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  5. Sen. Shinn was a long time member of the Edmonds College Foundation and an active supporter of the College. I tru.y admired and respected him, and he was great to work with. I would like to add to this article that Paull was also a veteran of the U. S. Army.

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  6. I met Paull the first time he ran for office. He was out doorbelling and I was walking my dog. He stopped and introduced himself and impressed me. He reinforced my belief in voting for the individual. I wish his family peace and continued pride in what he proudly represented.

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  7. I always looked up to Paull because of his perseverance and how he accomplished so much, coming from such humble beginnings. Condolences to Donna, children and the entire family.

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  8. Just learned that Dr. Paull Shin, one of my best teachers, had been peacefully relaxed in Heaven 5 days ago. In the early ’80s, I introduced him to meet my parents in China. My well-educated parents were impressed by his enthusiasm, knowledge, and modesty. I‘m honored with the opportunity to be invited to visit his home and participate in a Korean-American’s welcome party celebrating his role as a Washington State ambassador for the 1998 Olympic Summer Game in South Korea. … The last words he wrote to me was in 2007 for my memoir, “Grassland Journal …”, where he wrote: ‘What a wonderful story Mr. Cheng has written. I was studying Chinese history for it reveals much about Mongolia …” How humble Dr. Shin is! Dr. Shin is a true scholar who deserved to be remembered.

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  9. When I chaired the 21st LD Party, Senator Chin was always respectful and made himself available for discussions. I went to a few of his town halls, and he always made it a point to hear from Republicans he represented too.

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  10. I served with Paull as a State Senator. He was one of the most impressive people I have ever met. He always kept his word, no matter the pressure put upon him. I have been blessed to know him. Besides my own family, he is truly a person I wish to see when I pass on from this earthly presence.

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