NEWBURYPORT — The city said goodbye last month to a local celebrity who was never famous in the strict sense of the word, but probably touched more lives in his 47 years of life than a Hollywood A-lister.
Those who knew Brent Paulhus from his days at Newburyport High School (class of ‘84) or from Northeastern University or the pizza parlor where he worked in his 20s or from his days as a stockbroker at the Stock Cross financial firm, knew the sad day was coming ever since he announced to them 12 years ago that he’d been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, known more familiarly as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
But even after watching Paulhus suffer for years from the effects of the disease that robbed him of the physical vitality he’d been blessed with, when word leaked out that everyone’s favorite neighborhood boy was reaching the end, nobody wanted to let him go.
The outpouring of emotion, in hundreds of posts on Brent’s Facebook page and on a page set up to support him through his battle, was staggering. It painted a picture of a man whose short life was devoted absolutely to serving others and supporting friends and strangers in their hour of need.
“He actually knew more people than I’ve ever seen,” said Bryan Paulhus, speaking of the number of folks who shared stories of all the good times they’d shared with his identical twin brother. “This sounds made up, but he wasn’t necessarily famous as a celebrity, but he was more personally known than anyone I’ve ever heard of.”
When they were children, the self-proclaimed shy Bryan always marveled at the way his twin brother navigated so comfortably in his relationships with others. As twins do, he said, the duo would often take advantage of their strikingly similar features to pose as the other, but while many were confused over which of the brothers was which, Bryan says the two were actually very different. And he still stands in awe of how others were attracted by his brother’s empathic nature.