Wrabec remembered for service to Democratic Party

Mike Genet
The Examiner USA TODAY NETWORK

Since word of Paul Wrabec's death began to circulate Wednesday, many in local political office have posted on social media their condolences and remembrances about the chair of the Jackson County Democratic Committee. 

Paul Wrabec spent a lifetime in local Democratic poliitics.

Wrabec, a Sugar Creek businessman and lifelong resident of the town, died suddenly at home Wednesday morning at the age of 64. Active in politics since he was 18, he had been the county party chair since being elected in 2016. 

His son Cyril, a local attorney, says the other common sentiment he's heard about his father is how Paul shared his love of the outdoors with people – his family and many other friends and even recent acquaintances. 

“What a teacher he was, how many people he taught growing up, hunting and fishing,” Cyril said. “That was a lifelong hobby of his, and he was taught by uncle, down at Lake of the Ozarks. That's where we'd always go.” 

“So many people were taken in under his wing, who otherwise wouldn't have done it, because they didn't have the means or availability; they shot their first deer or caught their first fish at the lake. He loved helping people.” 

Just a month and a half ago, Cyril's sister also died, a month shy of her 43rd birthday, and it weighed heavily on their father, he said. 

“That shook up my dad pretty good,” Cyril said. 

A graduate of St. Mary High School and Rockhurst University, Wrabec retired from environmental remediation work in 2005, his son said, which left plenty of time for various business ventures such as the DMV or rental properties, and the family tradition of homemade wine (Paul's paternal grandparents immigrated to Sugar Creek from Croatia and Slovakia in the early 1900s). He obtained a state vineyard license, and though he sometimes sold to churches, the wine never became a retail venture. 

Politics did become a venture, though, and Cyril said he admired how his father could “run circles” around others with fundraising and getting out the vote, and how he didn't hold grudges and could be just as quick to shake hands with political enemies. 

Paul Wrabec served on the Sugar Creek Board of Aldermen, was first elected to the county party committee in 1978 and according to Jackson County Democratic Committee was its longest-serving chairperson in nearly 100 years. He ran unsuccessfully for county legislator in 2018. 

“Paul was a rare figure in party politics,” the committee posted. “He found ways to make peace with all factions of those he represented. While he was very proud to serve as Chairman, he never took credit for the success of others. His gentle style of management, which usually included a good story from his rich history, was well appreciated by all of those around him.” 

“Paul worked tirelessly for the causes he held dear and for folks who needed a fighter,” County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker posted. 

State Sen. John Rizzo, D-Independence, said Wrabec was a “true example of what it means to care about the community. 

“He lived life to the fullest, loved his family, and was a pillar in his community,” Rizzo posted. 

County Legislator Jalen Anderson, D-Blue Springs, said Wrabec was a “true leader and public servant” who unexpectedly became a “best friend and mentor.” 

Randy Dunn, executive director the Missouri Democratic party, posted that Wrabec was “not only a good Democrat and union man, he was just a good person, period.” 

““He was a strong and trusted voice, not just in Kansas City, but across the state,” Dunn wrote. “He was someone I looked up to when I became involved in Kansas City politics originally and his leadership is a loss to us all.”