Colleagues remember auctioneer

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 22, 2002

The Colonel is dead.

Paul H. Hull, that is.

The cherubic auctioneer was perfect for the familiar moniker "Colonel."

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In a wide-brimmed Stetson hat, dressed nattily in a suit with a string tie, Mr. Hull could sell anything to anybody.

He died Thursday on a fishing trip to Canada at the age of 91.

Local auctioneers are among those mourning the loss of the senior member of their fraternity.

"My first memory of Colonel Paul Hull was of him singing the 'Auctioneer's Song' at the old Ramsey Sale Barn when I was only a kid," said Glenn Medgaarden. "A guy by the name of Wally Walrath ran the place and Paul was the auctioneer. He was one of the nicest men you'd ever want to meet."

"If more people had the disposition he had, they would all live happier lives," Medgaarden said.

Each August at the Mower County Fair, Mr. Hull would take a turn, when his health allowed him, before the microphone in Crane Pavilion for the annual 4-H Ribbon Auction.

It wouldn't take much to get the elder statesman of auctioneering to reprise Leroy Van Dyke's hit record "The Auctioneer's Song."

The smile on Mr. Hull's face indicated he enjoyed singing it as much as his audience enjoyed hearing it sung.

When his eulogy is spoken at funeral services this week, it will tell of wife Helen's husband, the father and grandfather. former Geo. A. Hormel & Co. worker, Austin school board candidate, Sunday school teacher at First United Methodist Church and all the other roles he filled.

But first and foremost, the public figure will be remembered as an auctioneer. The man standing on the hay wagon, pointing with a cane at raised hands and exhorting bidders to up their price.

George Moline now assumes the mantle of "senior" auctioneer after Mr. Hull's death. "He was my friend and a competitor, but he was a friendly compeitor," Moline said.

"He was deeply professional, represented the profession well and always did an excellent job for his clients," he said.

"And," Moline added, "he was never happier than when he was sinnging the 'Auctioneer's Song'."

Nobody knew Mr. Hull better than his son, Duane. The Colonel started auctioneering in 1944 and his son joined forces when he was 16.

"He was a generous man," said the son. "He was always uplifting. He would light up a room when he walked in.

"At home he always had a good song or whistle to share and he was a good father for all of us."

The Colonel was in good health until his death last week on the fishing trip with a nephew, but Duane suspected his father felt or knew something could happen. "He didn't say anything, but I just knew he felt something inside by the way he talked," Duane said.

The Colonel's last auction over a career spanning 58 years was June 1 at Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Austin when he and Duane auctioned a house.

Father and son also farmed together and were neighbors in the countryside south of Austin along Minnesota Highway 105.

This spring, the Colonel help his son put in the year's soybean crops.

"I think one of the best memories I have of him was when we were in the auction business together," Duane said. "In those days after every sale the ladies used to have a big meal and invite the auctioneers in the house to share it with the families. "We would sit and talk and eat and just have the greatest time."

Lee Bonorden can be reached at 434-2232 or by e-mail at