We are deeply saddened by the passing of our friend, Paul Purcell. Paul served on our Board of Directors for nine years, five as chair. He most recently served on the Cristo Rey Network Board of Directors. Paul was a true champion of the Cristo Rey mission, dedicated to the education and professional development of our students for nearly 25 years.
A statement from President Antonio Ortiz:
It with great sadness, but profound gratitude, that I share Paul Purcell’s obituary with you. Many of you were at ¡VIVA! last year when we honored Paul and Patti Purcell for their remarkable commitment to Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, and subsequently, their work with the national office – the Cristo Rey Network – in replicating the Cristo Rey model in 37 other schools around the country.
Paul’s obituary speaks to his many commitments: family, community, business, and the many, many relationships he built over 73 years of life. It is for that reason we were overwhelmed to learn his family has asked that, in lieu of flowers, commemorative gifts be made to Cristo Rey Jesuit High School. On a personal level, Paul was in my closest circle of mentors and advisors. Nick would say the same, and probably so would many others. He was famous for always saying, “after my family, Cristo Rey is the most important focus in my life.” Every time I would share good news with him about Cristo Rey, an idea or plans to strengthen our mission, he would respond, “kids win”.
I’ll conclude with an excerpt from my introduction of Paul at ¡VIVA! last May: Honoring Paul and Patti Purcell is a no-brainer. There is no question in my mind we would not exist if it were not for the leadership of Paul and Patti Purcell. Paul, in particular, has been my mentor for over a decade…quite frankly, I love the man! When I became President in 2012, Paul gave me one piece of advice, that to this day I think is the most important advice I received. He told me, “Tony, spend your first year as President getting to know the students again. You’ve been gone for two years, and it’s important you get to know the students.This whole formula is built on the kids. It starts, stops, and it’s all for the students.There will be plenty of time for meetings and fundraisers, but you have to know the students.”
A great man who will be greatly missed, but never forgotten as a Founder of the Cristo Rey movement.