LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Marty Knollenberg, R-Troy, issued the following statement Tuesday morning regarding the death of Oakland County political strategist Paul Welday:
“I’m here today because I lost a friend. Many of us knew this friend because we all considered him to be a friend. He was a friend and a part of my family. He was a friend whom I associated with in business. I was a client of his, and he was a client of mine. We were friends in a social setting. He is someone I have known for over 35 years. My friend is Paul Welday.
“I woke up this morning about 5:15, looked at my phone, and started to see some messages come to me. At first, I didn’t believe it — he is 57 years old. As these messages started to come in, I had tears in my eyes. I felt like a dagger was put through my heart. I don’t have many people whom I can say this about, other than my mom, dad, my wife, and my brother. This person was a part of our family.
“We are all involved in politics here. Many of you know that my dad was involved in politics going back to the 1970s. You may wonder how I got involved in politics, and you may assume that it is because of my father. That was not the case at all. It was because of Paul Welday.
“He encouraged me to run for precinct delegate. He encouraged me to run for county commissioner, and frankly, I didn’t even know what a county commissioner did back then. He encouraged me to run for state representative, and the rest is history.
“Obviously, my parents were very supportive of me, but they never pushed me. Paul Welday did. I believe that he did because he saw something in me. He wanted good people involved in politics, and he thought that I fit that bill. He didn’t just mentor me. I know he mentored a lot of you here in this room. I owe my being here today to him.
“I mentioned that he was a business client of mine and that I was a business client of his. I sold my very first insurance policy to Paul Welday, and we weren’t the cheapest. He did it out of faith to me and my family, and he helped me get started in my insurance career. I, obviously, returned the favor and became a client of his. He was my dad’s chief of staff for 16 years. My dad actually hired him shortly after college as a political director for the Oakland County Republican Party. We go back a long way.
“There are not many people with whom I have had this type of relationship and whom I can call a business partner, a social friend, a political friend, a friend, and a family member. I told my wife this sad news this morning before she was even out of bed. I felt I had to break the news to her and to my mother as well. This person was important to all of our family members.
“Many of us know Paul, but you may also know his wife Val. Paul leaves behind a five-year-old daughter and also an autistic young man. Paul had a passion for autism. Paul’s heart was in the right spot. I can’t believe that I’m not crying, because that’s what I did first thing this morning. I just hope that you will all remember him.
“I should also say that Paul loved politics, and he loved to debate. He knew his political issues frontwards and backwards, and he knew the pros and the cons. I went to him on a number of issues trying to get a handle on what were the pros and cons of a particular issue. He was very helpful to me and to many of you. As policymakers, we should understand all sides of issues, and he was one of those people to whom I went to understand these issues.
“If you didn’t agree with him, that was OK. He would agree to disagree with you. I know he has a number of friends on the other side of the aisle. He loved to debate, and he loved the issues. Unfortunately, I don’t think we see enough of that — let’s just agree to disagree sometimes.
“He is a person whom we should all remember. I’m going to miss him. Our hearts should go out to him, his wife Val — who many of you know because she is currently working in the House of Representatives for Representative Heise. Prayers to Paul Welday and his family.”