From ministry to sales: Paul Rothberg 1944 – 2018

He lived on both coasts and in the desert Southwest, overcame alcohol abuse and followed his calling as a Christian pastor, and at the end of his career, worked in ad sales for two East Mountain publications before passing away over the weekend at the age of 73.

Paul Christian Rothberg was born in Bronx, New York, on Sept. 11, 1944. He passed away April 15.

He was born to the late George and Ruth (Cresson) Rothberg. When he was only six years old, his mother died, leaving his father a single parent with three young boys. His son, also named Paul, recounted the story: George was so overwhelmed with the loss of his wife and caring for the children that he took them to an orphanage to drop them off. As his sons cried for him not to leave them, George Rothberg cried with them—then took his boys home.

From the Bronx, Paul moved to Johnson City, N.Y., where he went to Lincoln Memorial School. He married Sharon June McMahon on Feb. 26, 1966; the couple divorced 30 years later.

Paul had some rough years as a teenager, and said that alcohol nearly killed him before he turned his life over to God and was called to Christian ministry. He attended the Practical Bible Training School, graduating in 1973 as valedictorian. While there, he was a student pastor at Locust Hill Bible Church, in Pennsylvania. “He had a rough, wild life,” his ex-wife recalled. “Then he came to the Lord, and totally turned his life around. He sat down and started reading the Bible. He was so intense about studying the word of God.”

From there, the couple moved to Hankins, N.Y., where Paul was the pastor of Hankins Assembly of God for the next 20 years. He loved serving the Lord, teaching and preaching the word of God.

The couple had two children who survive him: Paul C. Rothberg II and his wife Judith of Vista, Calif., and daughter Dawn Christine Stenros and her husband Steve of Murrieta, Calif. He is also survived by his brother James Rothberg and his wife Dale, of Divide, Colo.

In 1994, Paul relocated to Phoenix, Arizona, where he met his second wife, Sharon (Smith) Rothberg, who survives him. They married on May 19, 1998, then relocated to Bakersfield, Calif.

In Bakersfield, Paul served as head of Match-2 Ministries, a program that worked to pair inmates recently released from prison with mentors. “He had a significant influence there,” his daughter said. “He had a huge impact on the lives of many inmates. He was thriving again in that type of ministry work.”

In 2002, Paul and Sharon Rothberg moved to Edgewood, where he lived until his death.

In 2004, Paul started in ad sales at The Independent newspaper. He was well known all around the East Mountains and Estancia Valley through his work for local publishers; after leaving The Independent he went to work for East Mountain Living.

Paul Rothberg was one of four employees of The Independent who were part of an employee buyout. Shown here with Leota Harriman, Debbie Ohler and Jim Goodman.

He started as an ad sales representative, and later became co-owner and sales director of The Independent newspaper. As an ad sales rep, he was a passionate advocate for small businesses and worked hard to make sure all of his clients were cared for with a personal touch, even hand-delivering a copy of the newspaper to his advertisers each week. In this role, he continued his ministry informally, sometimes relating to people through prayer and his understanding of God.

He had a good sense of humor and handled the pressures of the weekly newspaper deadline with grace and patience. Even years after he left The Independent, the newspaper has continued to get occasional calls for him. He was a regular fixture at Chamber of Commerce meetings and other events where business owners might gather.

After leaving The Independent, Paul went to work selling ads for East Mountain Living magazine, where owner Mike Meyers described him as honest and dependable. He was there for five years.

Paul’s interests ranged from aeronautics to guitar, from his motorcycle to his boat, from the stars to his Corvette, from gardening to exploring ghost towns. When he was young he wanted to design airplanes. His children remember his big heart, the jolly side of him that loved to laugh and play pranks, his intelligence and his depth.

“For me, his profound strength in my life stands out,” Dawn said. “I looked up to my Dad. He was like a tower—I could always turn to him with my deepest need, and he would always pray with me. He always made sense out of confusion for me.”

“Dad was a very good man,” his son said. “He immensely enjoyed his dune buggy, his motorcycle and his boat. He loved to be outside and do fun things. Dad thoroughly enjoyed life!”

A funeral service will be held at Harris Hanlon Mortuary in Moriarty on April 20, at 11 a.m., with a burial following at the Mountain View Cemetery in Moriarty. There will be a reception following at Sheraton Uptown at 2600 Louisiana Blvd. NE., Albuquerque.