Chuckwalla to Paradise: New bench memorializes life of Dr. Paul Navar; STGnews Videocast, Photo Gallery

WASHINGTON COUNTY – There sits a bench hewn of rock on the Paradise Rim of Washington County’s Red Cliffs Reserve that offers 360-degree vistas of Pine Valley Mountain, Snow Canyon, downtown St. George and beyond to the prominent red and white bluffs of Zion National Park – a bench set this Memorial Day weekend in remembrance of Dr. Paul Navar who died of a massive heart attack on that spot in 2009.

Bench in memorial to Dr. Paul Navar on Paradise Rim, where he died of a heart attack, inscribed with one of his life-mottos: "It's about how long you live, it's about how well you live." St. George, Utah, May 22, 2015 | Photo by Joyce Kuzmanic, St. George News
Bench in memorial to Dr. Paul Navar on Paradise Rim, where he died of a heart attack, inscribed with one of his life-mottos: “It’s not about how long you live, it’s about how well you live.” Red Cliffs National Recreation Area, Washington County, Utah, May 22, 2015 | Photo by Joyce Kuzmanic, St. George News

Paul Navar was 52. He had stopped at the rim to rest from bike riding the Chuckwalla Trail, a favorite his family said he rode almost daily.

It’s not about how long you live, it’s about how well you live.

Paul Navar’s life motto inscribed on the front of the bench reverberates a quiet but audible echo to his life well-lived. It is as if he is there, resting, reminding those who pause, “It is OK. Live on. Live well.”

Saturday, Paul Navar’s wife, Marsha Navar, two of their three children, Allison and Kirk Navar, and Grant Fines, who brought new love to Marsha Navar after a long time of lamentation, joined soon-to-be Eagle Scout Andy Day and his parents, Jay and Julie Day, at the bench to give it their blessing and to pause in remembrance.

L-R: Kirk Navar and Allison Navar, with mother Marsha Navar at memorial bench for their father, Paul Navar. Paradise Rim, Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, Washington County, Utah, May 23, 2015 | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News
L-R: Kirk Navar and Allison Navar, with mother Marsha Navar at memorial bench for their father, Paul Navar. Paradise Rim, Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Washington County, Utah, May 23, 2015 | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News

Thanks were full on the Navar side for the achievement of Andy Day in making the bench his Eagle Scout project, prevailing upon the Bureau of Land Management for approval to place it there – approval for a monument the BLM had denied Marsha Navar in the aftermath of Paul Navar’s death six years ago.

Consideration was thoughtful on the Boy Scout’s side for a project that, Andy Day said, had more meaning than many Eagle Scout projects offer. It gave him life lessons in leadership, he said.

It was an emotional respite at the overlook Saturday, but dignified and softly joyous.

Allison Navar was 20 when her dad died. She has since been through law school, passed the bar and has worked with attorney Jeff McKenna in St. George. McKenna inquired how her father died, she said, and when she told him, he, being a mountain biker himself, offered the idea of a bench there in Paul Navar’s honor.

“Jeff got in touch with our Eagle Scout, Andy Day; Andy got in touch with Alli; Alli put him in touch with me,” Marsha Navar said, “and, voilà, we now have a bench.”

L-R: Jacob Brostrom, Andy Day, James Day, Taylor Hill, of Boy Scout Troop 1827, transporting bench in memorial to Dr. Paul Navar, who died of a heart attack on Paradise Rim in February, 2009. St. George, Utah, May 22, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Julie Day, St. George News
L-R: Jacob Brostrom, Andy Day, James Day, Taylor Hill, of Boy Scout Troop 1827, transporting bench in memorial to Dr. Paul Navar, who died of a heart attack on Paradise Rim in February, 2009. Red Cliffs National Recreation Area, Washington County, Utah, May 22, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Julie Day, St. George News

From Chuckwalla Trailhead off state Route 18 in St. George to Paradise Rim overlooking Ivins run a series of interconnecting rock and red dirt trails; trails that usually see any combination of human feet, horse hooves and mountain bike wheels.

But Friday, about 2 miles of those trails – Chuckwalla, Turtle Wall and Paradise Rim – lent pathway to wheelbarrows as Boy Scout Troop 1827 pushed and guided the bench to its destination.

The seat alone weighs about 300 pounds, Jay Day said; add the legs, and the bench weighs about 400 pounds.

The bench, paid for by the Navar family, was set in place by the Scouts, and Saturday called for a return trip to complete the project, epoxying the seat to its foundation.

Andy Day and family; Marsha, Allison and Kirk Navar; Grant Fines; and a few friends wound their way up and down the alternating dirt and rock paths again to visit the bench, offer reflections and give it their blessings.

Dr. Paul Navar, Virgin River Rim Trail, St. George, Utah, 2008 | Photo courtesy of Marsha Navar, St. George News
Dr. Paul Navar, Virgin River Rim Trail, Washington County, Utah, 2008 | Photo courtesy of Marsha Navar, St. George News

The smooth but rugged bench embodies a life lived well, that of a man whose personal and professional pastimes were inseparable. Paul Navar was a healer, a protector and a leader.

He was the consummate outdoorsman, an expert climber, mountain biker, golfer, heli-skier, pilot and dirt biker, among other things. He loved his family. Paul and Marsha Navar met in high school in El Paso, Texas, married while he was in medical school and raised three children primarily in St. George, where they moved in 1999.

The day he died was the eve of opening a new and larger space for Paul Navar’s medical practice. His career as a doctor started in the emergency room. He later opened an age management practice in St. George, which culminated in a bio-identical hormone replacement and overall wellness specialty.

“We were opening a new, bigger office because his practice had grown so much,” Marsha Navar said. “People were coming to him from all over the country because he had written a very well-received article in ‘Life Extension’ magazine. After the article, which came out in ’07, we became crazy busy.”

Dr. Paul Navar, Virgin River Rim Trail, St. George, Utah, 2008 | Photo courtesy of Marsha Navar, St. George News
Dr. Paul Navar, Virgin River Rim Trail, Washington County, Utah, 2008 | Photo courtesy of Marsha Navar, St. George News

The Navars’ eldest son, Jon Paul Navar, then 24 and today a doctor himself, related at his father’s memorial service in 2009 how he once tried to trick his dad with a trivia question: “Whose heart beats more: an elephant that lives for 10 years, or a mouse that lives for 3 weeks?” His dad immediately knew the answer, Jon Paul said; they both beat the same number of times.

Jon Paul Navar continued:

The heart of a human who lives to 72 years of age will beat 2.6 billion times, but I’m sure my father’s beat more than 3 billion times in his 52 years of life because of how much he enjoyed life.

Jon Paul Navar joined his mother for a visit to the bench on Paradise Rim Sunday.

Marsha Navar continues to care about health and wellness, as she did alongside Paul Navar. Two years after her husband’s death, Marsha Navar met Grant Fines, and their relationship blossomed. Today, they own and operate Marsha’s Products, which prepares and sells raw food goods made from Marsha Navar’s personal recipes.

Ed. Note: Julie Day provided the following names associated with her son’s Eagle Scout project:  Boy Scout Troop 1827 is led by Shawn Jones, Brian Hill and Jay Day. Scouts and boys who helped with the bench memorial project include Taylor Truman, Brady Jones, Jacob Brostrom, Sam Slivers, Davis Miller, Andy Day, Jalin Towler, Taylor Hill, Hunter Mitchell, James Day, Thomas Day, Jan Day.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery. 

Email: jkuzmanic@stgnews.com

Twitter: @JoyceKuzmanic

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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3 Comments

  • mjvande May 25, 2015 at 11:16 am

    Bicycles should not be allowed in any natural area. They are inanimate objects and have no rights. There is also no right to mountain bike. That was settled in federal court in 1996: http://mjvande.nfshost.com/mtb10.htm . It’s dishonest of mountain bikers to say that they don’t have access to trails closed to bikes. They have EXACTLY the same access as everyone else — ON FOOT! Why isn’t that good enough for mountain bikers? They are all capable of walking….

    A favorite myth of mountain bikers is that mountain biking is no more harmful to wildlife, people, and the environment than hiking, and that science supports that view. Of course, it’s not true. To settle the matter once and for all, I read all of the research they cited, and wrote a review of the research on mountain biking impacts (see http://mjvande.nfshost.com/scb7.htm ). I found that of the seven studies they cited, (1) all were written by mountain bikers, and (2) in every case, the authors misinterpreted their own data, in order to come to the conclusion that they favored. They also studiously avoided mentioning another scientific study (Wisdom et al) which did not favor mountain biking, and came to the opposite conclusions.

    Those were all experimental studies. Two other studies (by White et al and by Jeff Marion) used a survey design, which is inherently incapable of answering that question (comparing hiking with mountain biking). I only mention them because mountain bikers often cite them, but scientifically, they are worthless.

    Mountain biking accelerates erosion, creates V-shaped ruts, kills small animals and plants on and next to the trail, drives wildlife and other trail users out of the area, and, worst of all, teaches kids that the rough treatment of nature is okay (it’s NOT!). What’s good about THAT?

    To see exactly what harm mountain biking does to the land, watch this 5-minute video: http://vimeo.com/48784297.

    In addition to all of this, it is extremely dangerous: http://mjvande.nfshost.com/mtb_dangerous.htm .

    For more information: http://mjvande.nfshost.com/mtbfaq.htm .

    The common thread among those who want more recreation in our parks is total ignorance about and disinterest in the wildlife whose homes these parks are. Yes, if humans are the only beings that matter, it is simply a conflict among humans (but even then, allowing bikes on trails harms the MAJORITY of park users — hikers and equestrians — who can no longer safely and peacefully enjoy their parks).

    The parks aren’t gymnasiums or racetracks or even human playgrounds. They are WILDLIFE HABITAT, which is precisely why they are attractive to humans. Activities such as mountain biking, that destroy habitat, violate the charter of the parks.

    Even kayaking and rafting, which give humans access to the entirety of a water body, prevent the wildlife that live there from making full use of their habitat, and should not be allowed. Of course those who think that only humans matter won’t understand what I am talking about — an indication of the sad state of our culture and educational system.

    • Mike May 25, 2015 at 5:01 pm

      Pretty tall soap box there. Not really the time, though.

  • KarenS June 5, 2015 at 6:39 pm

    Bad precedent for the BLM to allow a memorial to a private citizen on public land. Will the families of all those who have died on other trails be afforded the same privilege? Mr. Navar was not a public figure, nor did her have any connection with the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. What is the reasoning behind the BLM decision?

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