Remembering Paul Nies: Soldier, hunter, family man
BARSTOW • Paul Nies lived to be outdoors. An avid hunter, fisherman and trapper, Nies would escape to the desert three to four times each month, never letting his medical issues or age stop him.
Nies’ body was found at the bottom of a 35-foot ravine in the desert area off Fort Irwin road last week after disappearing weeks before. He was 73.
Nies was found Thursday night by bikers. Investigators determined Nies hit his head on a rock and died immediately, according to his daughter, Shawn Nies. They identified him by his drivers license in his pocket, though fingerprint analysis should be completed this week to confirm the body is him.
Shawn Nies found the way her father died significant, being that he was such an outdoorsman.
“It gives me comfort ... I mean, what better way to cross than doing something that you absolutely love to do, you know?” Shawn Nies said.
Bella Nies said she was relieved when investigators told her they found her husband. Not knowing what happened to her husband for three weeks was traumatic, she said.
“You know, something told me the first day when he didn’t come home, I knew he was dead at that point, because otherwise he would have come home,” Bella Nies said. “I’ve been married to him for 37 years. I knew him well.”
The night before Bella and Paul Nies ate at his favorite restaurant, Coco’s, to celebrate his birthday.
She asked him not to go on that trip, Shawn Nies said, but it was his birthday and he wanted to celebrate.
Paul Nies is described as a hard-worker, strict father and a man who would do anything for his family. Many in Barstow knew him from hunting safety classes he led. He was very passionate about hunting safety, Shawn Nies said.
Paul Nies lied about his age to join the Army at 16 years old. He was transferred to Fort Irwin where he retired from the military. Then he worked at the Marine Corps Logistics Base as a mobile equipment metal mechanic before retiring in 1996 after 35 years of service.
Shawn Nies said she always connected with her father as she also served in the Army. She remembers the day she graduated from college and was promoted to an officer, her father and sister, in the Air Force, argued over who got to salute her first after the pinning. She couldn’t decide, she said.
“They both got their silver dollar,” she said. “That’s a really special memory.”
Bella Nies remembers meeting her husband while working at Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex. She was told to watch out for him, she said between chuckles. She was told he always checks out the new girls.
“He was persistent,” she said. “I tried to avoid him and stay away from him, but his persistence paid off.”
Nies is survived by his wife; his children Shawn Nies, Tracy Amadio and Eric Nies; three grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Services are pending until his body is released from the Coroner’s office.