Paul Gregory Sears Ph.D.

Friday 5th of September 1924 - Saturday 12th of September 2020

Paul Gregory Sears Ph.D.

Paul Gregory Sears, Ph.D., 96, and widower of Juanita Reed Sears died Sept. 12, 2020, following complications of Covid-19.  He was born to the late James Andrew and Dova Gregory Sears on Sept. 5, 1924, in Somerset, KY.  He was an active member and Elder Emeritus of South Elkhorn Christian Church.

He was a WWII veteran, having served honorably in the Army Air Corps (8th Air Force, 100th Bomber Group “The Bloody Hundredth”).  Mr. Sears was held as a prisoner of war for 19 months, after the B-17 he served on as a tail gunner was shot down by enemy fire in 1943 on his 10th mission.

After returning from the war and leveraging the GI Bill, Paul earned the B.S. in Industrial Chemistry degree with distinction in 1950 and a Ph.D. degree in 1953, with a major in physical chemistry and a minor in electrical engineering from the University of Kentucky. He achieved the rank of Professor in 1962.  In his instructional activities over 25 years, Paul had more than 7,200 students in his classes at all levels.  He was a recipient of a University of Kentucky Greek Community Outstanding Teacher Award in 1968 and a University of Kentucky Alumni Association Great Teacher Award in 1980.  As a faculty leader, Paul served eighteen months as Chairman of the University Senate Council, seventeen years as Faculty Assistant to the President of the University, nine years as an elected faculty representative on the Board of Trustees, and twelve years as a faculty member on the Board of Directors of the University of Kentucky Athletics Association.  During 1970-1987, he was a member of the President's Cabinet and was well-known for his extensive knowledge of the University's academic policies and governing and administrative regulations. He served as the Special Assistant for Academic Affairs and advisor to UK’s Presidents (1980-1990) and retired from the University at the end of 1990.  The Dr. Paul G. Sears Chemistry Scholarship Fund, initiated in 2008, was created in his honor to assist undergraduates studying chemistry at the University of Kentucky.  Since issuing scholarships in 2011, sixteen students have benefited from the fund.   Paul was inducted into the University of Kentucky’s Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame in 2013.  Induction video

In 2018, Paul’s story was featured (along with the heroics of Senator John McCain) in the dedication of the POW/MIA Chair of Honor that sits empty in the United States Capitol as a tribute to those brave men and women who, in the course of their courageous military service, have been rendered missing in action or prisoners of war.  About the chair

In 2019, Paul was honored by having his accomplishments recorded in The Congressional Record, which highlighted his military service, heroism, and his many other contributions.  Link to the Congressional Record entry

His hobbies included handicapping thoroughbred racing, poker (“statistics and economics meetings”), and playing pool with his UK friends.  He enjoyed researching and delivering his WWII experiences in a slide show to groups of all ages.   He enthusiastically supported the UK sports teams including football, men’s basketball, and women’s basketball. 

Paul was a gentle man, loving husband, caring father, church Elder, patient teacher, wonderful neighbor, dedicated friend, loved his family, cherished his nieces & nephews, and a role model to all.  He always remembered names and connections with people.  He continued learning throughout his later life, mastering email, web searches, online betting with 4 horse races running simultaneously, and a firestick to watch his beloved 1950s westerns and  WWII YouTube videos.  Since his POW days, his favorite Bible verse was Romans 8:28, “We know that in everything God works for good” -  Paul treated everyone with this verse in mind.   He will be greatly missed.   

Dr. Sears is survived by his daughter Elizabeth (Scott) Brown; son-in-law William Stagg; three grandchildren, Susanne (Kevin) Cooper, Jared (Andrea Hinkel) Brown, and Alison (Derek) Pinkerton; two great-grandchildren, Will and Amy Cooper; and numerous nieces and nephews.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his daughter Anne Stagg, his grand-daughter, Celia Stagg, and five siblings, Catherine Self, James Sears, Joseph Sears, Elizabeth McMenamin, and Margaret Myles.

A private graveside service with military honors will be held at Camp Nelson National Cemetery with a celebration of his life for his many family members and friends in 2021.

Memorial donations are encouraged to:

1.     Dr. Paul G Sears Chemistry Scholarship Fund payable to the University of Kentucky with “Sears Scholarship/memorial Dr. Paul Sears” noted in the memo, and mailed to UK Philanthropy, Office of Gift Receiving, 210 Malabu Drive, Suite 200, Lexington, KY 40502.  Alternatively, online gifts can be made to the Sears Scholarship at

2.     South Elkhorn Christian Church Memorial Fund, please note Paul G Sears in the memo line, 4343 Harrodsburg Rd, Lexington, KY 40513.  Alternatively, online gifts can be made here and click on Memorial Gifts, or

3.     the American Red Cross (who provided care packages to the POWs and sustained many lives)

Guest Book

Boyd and Barbara Jones


We are so glad we had the opportunity have many years of friendship with your family. Paul was a wonderful man and a real hero to us. Hugs to you Lizzy and your family.

10 hours ago

Donald R Wilson


Dear Sears Family: My condolences on the passing of Dr. Sears. I have to say that he was among my favorite teachers at UK. He was interested in how our entire class grasped the concepts, such that he gave one of our tests a second time after he went over the section again, saying that our scores reflected his teaching method. Needless to say, we were embarrassed at our efforts and I think he was pleased with our second set of results. When we had postcards in the mail to receive our grades "faster" he wrote a personal note to me, which I still possess. I did not know of his war efforts, and would have discussed with him my father's service in the 91st BG as a B-17 top turret gunner in 1943-44. Whenever I speak I try to emulate his techniques, even without an overhead projector! He will be missed, but remembered. Donald R. Wilson, M.D. UK COM 1976, Undergrad 1969-1972

14 hours ago

Steven W Yates


Paul was an outstanding teacher, a great colleague, and a wonderful representative of the University of Kentucky. Even more, he was a kind and generous man.

2 days ago

Bob Henry


Dr. Sears was an extraordinary man. Like many others who have written, he was my professor in freshman chemistry, and inspired me and other classmates, to go on to a career in science . Like my father, he was a WWII veteran and served as a role model and mentor to me in my military and professional career. His memorable presentations of his military experiences to my colleagues at the VA and to numerous Military Units were memorable and brought history to life.. Through the years, we became friends, and he was always quick to smile and share a story of his past. Those who knew him will remember his gentle nature, kindness, great intellect, and sense of humor. May god be with you, Lizzy and Scott and family, and bless Dr. Sears and may he rest in peace. My deepest condolences to all of his family and friends. We have lost a great man.

3 days ago



He smiled as he spoke ... a little more than almost everyone else; that is the picture of Paul in my mind's eye. I had a firsthand account of the history of 1940's war-chemistry from Paul during a few lunch meetings on campus a few years ago. Upon his passing, unique insights fall into the shadows. I celebrate Paul's life; the world was a better place with him in it. A. Cammers, PhD University of Kentucky, A&S, Chemistry.

3 days ago

Stephanie R


Paul was a wonderful gentleman. I enjoyed our visits and learned much from him. He will be missed. Deepest sympathies to Lizzie and Scott and the rest of Paul's loved ones.

3 days ago