We’ve just learned of Paul Wirth’s passing. You can see his obituary at the News-Gazette.
Services for Paul will be private. A memorial service will be held at a later date.
Paul Wirth, owner of the the Iron Post, has been a friend to the festival from its earliest days. The Post has been a gem of downtown Urbana–a hub of musical culture for the region, and a much-loved festival venue. But recent events have endangered the survival of this treasured institution, and our hearts are heavy.
Paul, we are holding you and your family in our hearts and praying that you recover your health. You will always have our appreciation and admiration for the work you have done to keep the live music scene thriving in C-U. If you have to pass the torch, many hands will work to keep that scene burning bright.
The message below, from Paul’s family, lays out the situation.
Firstly, we would like to thank everyone for their donations so far. These donations were a major factor in allowing The Post to survive through the winter with any hope of re-opening this spring, as they have helped pay rent, insurance, and other operating expenses that did not go away even while the doors have been closed. Paul, The Post’s sole owner and operator, had every intention of re-opening this spring. However, in early March he experienced a serious medical event which has made it impossible for him to continue to own and manage The Post going forward, and will in fact require long-term intensive health care and therapy. It is necessary to sell The Post, in one form or another, in order to cover medical expenses and comply with federal medical assistance rules. Paul’s family has been communicating with many members of the community to try to identify possible solutions that would allow for The Post to re-open in some form that would keep its spirit alive. Sadly, we keep discovering new issues that are out of our hands that complicate any efforts to take over The Post (both the name and the location) and it is seeming increasingly unlikely that The Post will be able to re-open at all, even under new management. We are not asking for additional donations at this time to cover medical costs. You have all already done so much to help both Paul and The Post, but unfortunately the numbers we are dealing with across various debts are so large that it is nigh impossible that any additional donations you all might provide would prevent the sale of Paul and/or The Iron Post’s assets. Times are tough for many right now, and we would prefer that any funds you might want to donate instead be contributed to other efforts that enable and celebrate live music (whether it be jazz, soul, R&B, rock, or classical) in Champaign-Urbana. Due to the change in circumstances, we totally understand if any of you wish to ask for a refund of your previous donations and are working with GoFundMe to facilitate that. As previously stated, all funds already spent from donations were used to keep The Post alive this long, and any as of yet unspent funds that are not refunded will be used to work towards resolving any outstanding business debts, closing down the business in an orderly manner, and ensuring that the more sentimental assets of The Post are distributed to those who will appreciate them and hopefully use them to create a successor institution some time in the future. Paul’s family thank you for all of your generosity so far, and we know that this is a blow to the C-U Music community, not just our family. We hope you will honor Paul and The Post by doing everything you can to support live music this spring and summer.