The move west meant more changes for Paskel than just the scenery. For starters, his living conditions improved dramatically. Where he shared a sectional sofa with his brother in New York, he got his own room in Phoenix.
But while he enjoyed some benefits from the move — he was closer to his aunt, he had greater physical safety and comfort — he also suffered tremendous loss. His mother passed away just nine months after settling into their new home.
Paskel still had his father, but his father struggled with problems that prevented him from being the provider Paskel needed. Earning a livelihood, in other words, would fall to Paskel.
“I didn’t have the choice of college or anything, because at that point it was back to survival mode,” Paskel recalls.
And so his work ethic, honed over the course of a challenging childhood, kicked in. He graduated high school early and landed a job with a local bank when he was just 17.
“I was looking for a job where I could support myself and take care of my father if I needed to, and the bank branches were hiring,” Paskel explains. “I didn’t realize what a good decision that was at the time.”