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.