Paul Orson Bingham, founder of the Thunderbird Foundation for the Arts who was known as an expert in the art of painter Maynard Dixon, has died from complications of a brain hematoma at the age of 80.
Born in Ogden Utah, Paul’s early life on a dairy farm shaped a work ethic that continued his entire life. He was raised in Hooper and Farr West, Utah and was the second of five sons to Wayne and Leone Bingham. He was a dairy judging champion with the FFA and was a state wrestling champion at Weber High School. Paul served an LDS mission to Copenhagen Denmark, where he became fluent in the Danish language and culture. He was also a wonderful singer with a deep bass voice. He was very proud to have played the lead role of Billy Bigelow at Weber State University’s production of Carousel as a college student.
In 1964, he met the love of his life, Susan Kathryn Dodson at Kinney Shoe Store in Roy, Utah where they were both employed. They married in 1965 and in 1967 Emily was born. That same year, Paul graduated from Weber State University and Paul and Susan left Utah for Santa Clara, California. A son, Daniel Paul and a daughter, Angela, soon joined the family. The Bingham family lived in the San Jose Bay area for 34 years.
In the early 70s Paul worked as a top salesman for Xerox in the nascent tech industry of Silicon Valley. He thoroughly enjoyed the sales process and became an absolute pro at putting together high dollar sales deals, with his creativity and out-of-the-box mindset. Paul was a natural entrepreneur who lived and breathed the concepts of risk and reward – so when the gallery business presented itself, he had the knowledge, skills and training to deal in high end art deals with a type of confidence rarely seen. Paul opened galleries in Los Altos and San Jose, specializing in works by California masters and specifically the art of Maynard Dixon.
In 1998, Paul and Susan purchased the Maynard Dixon home and studio in Mt. Carmel, Utah. Susan was looking forward to a quiet little summer retreat where they could go to relax in their later years. But as usual, Paul had an entirely different vision. The Mt. Carmel home would soon become a destination and mecca for artists and collectors alike. The Thunderbird Foundation for the Arts was born. Paul was a visionary who worked hard to bring his big dreams to fruition, which is evidenced in the heart and soul he put into the Dixon home and Foundation for the last 25 years.
Paul was a larger-than-life character who was smart, driven, generous, tender hearted, creative, forceful, irreverent, funny, respectful, and strong in all ways. He was also known for his classic one-liners. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather, son, and brother who honored and put family first. He was also known as a wonderful cook who made delicious meals for many groups of friends and associates. His children and grandchildren have fond memories of his epic Danish dinners and his marvelous Danish aebelskivers.
Paul is survived by his loving wife, Susan, his children Emily (Juan), Dan (Kimberly), Angela (Frank) and his grandchildren Charles, Samuel, Parker, Carson and Lily. He is also survived by brothers Robert and Blaine. He was preceded in death by his parents, and brothers David and Edwin.
Toward the end of his life, Paul, “The Binger,” as he was known by his friends, made a final confession to his family, a secret that he had kept for over 65 years. It was he, and his brother Dave, who in 1956, put the watermelon on the steeple of the Farr West Chapel late one Saturday night for all churchgoers to see the next morning. His family is relieved that he finally got that off his chest.
A celebration of Paul’s life will be held in the early fall. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Thunderbird Foundation for the Arts at www.thunderbirdfoundation.com.
It’s been lovely getting to know you and Susan as friends and neighbors over the last 25 years. God bless you and your family. You will be missed. RIP
I will miss Paul, his wonderful sense of humor, and his loving support for his wife, Susan. When we moved from Kanab in 2013, Paul wrote a beautiful letter to me stating how much he appreciated the friendship Susan and I had formed. I realized as I read this beautiful tribute to Susan and our dear friendship that Paul was a rare man , someone who could see Susan’s and my walks each morning up the Muddy as more than aerobic exercise or casual chats about local things. He cherished Susans’s love of knowledge and her desire to always read and enlarge her mind. Paul’s was always thinking of the “big picture”. I will miss him greatly.
I enjoyed reading about Paul’s earlier life. I am a relative of Susan who has met Paul several times at our Kampen reunions. They hosted us one year at their lovely Maynard Dixon property. He was a very calm and gentle guy that will be remembered by all. I hope to return their someday. All of us are thinking of the family and especially dear Susan. Take care of each other, sending hugs of healing and prayers for peace.
I am sorry for your loss of a great man.
I enjoyed so much my visit with you both at Maynard Dixon Studio when I held my workshop there.
I have such positive memories of Paul Bingham starting back in 2015 when he invited me to be the guest artist at the annual Maynard Dixon Country event. Since then I have had four successful solo shows there. He was both a friend and a mentor and I will greatly miss our communications on the phone, through emails and in person visits to the gallery for the openings and general visits. There is a big gap in my life right now by I know that he is at peace. My heart goes out to Susan and family. A great force of nature has left us but his legacy and memory will live on.
Lou and I have many fond memories of good times shared at the Maynard Dixon Country events. We especially remember the torrential, monsoonal rains that washed out a couple of dinners on the lawn. However, spirits undampened, everyone pitched in and dried off, reset, and made it work. A trait typical of Paul. If I could use one work to describe Paul, it would be undaunted. No challenge was too great, no detail too small for him. We miss the camaraderie, meeting new people, and sharing our mutual love of fine art. Exchanging some garden tips with Susan was a side bonus. The walls of our home remind us every day of the good times enjoyed together.
Our hearts are broken for you and your beautiful family. Paul and you had a beautiful life togeather ,your work and your family speaks volumes about you two. This is the time in our life’s we all face the possibility of losing our partner and the realization that life is short. You two have made a created a life time of successful and beautiful memories. bless you and your family and stay close if we can help you with what ever come along in life’ know we will be there. For you.
Our love and admiration for you and Paul and you family is with you,I am not far come and visit when you need to get away.
Love Vickie and Ray Rhees
We are soooo saddened…and stunned…to learn of Paul’s untimely passing. His many accomplishments were sterling…and as has been said, his “larger-than-life” personality was a joy to all! Before the Maynard Dixon days David and I loved attending his and Susan’s celebratory Christmas parties in their Salt lake home, and having them over to ours. I have a very distinct memory of Paul lingering by our door after a visit completing a thought which he began earlier. He and Susan exuded warmth wherever we saw them, often at the gigs of our children, David and Angela. Since the Maynard DIxon days I have enjoyed a special friendship online with Susan, an accomplished artist herself I LOVE her many wonderful paintings of flowers, and as she posted one I would often comment, leading to a sweet conversation, sometimes about other things. Susan…our hearts are broken for you. You and your wonderful children and grandchildren are now and will continue to be in our constant prayers. We love you all.
I have great memories of visiting the Bingham’s when I was growing up in San Jose. From reading Paul’s life story I see many parallels with my own father, and I understand better why the Gooch and Bingham clans enjoyed each other’s company. I knew Paul was in the tech world but learning about his artistic flair was new to me, but no surprise for a man of his talents.
My condolences to Susan, Daniel, Emily, and Angela.