Paul was born on April 11, 1941. He joined the Fishermen's Union on May 26, 1958, at the age of 17. He loved fishing and was the owner of the boat, Ellen Marie Elena, for a short time.
Survivors included his wife, Nancy D. (Coleman); three children, Paul Michael age 8, Michelle age 6, and Todd Joseph age 2; father, Joseph Rodrigues of Oldsmar, FL; mother and stepfather Alice and Jerry Paulson of Marathon, FL; sisters, Donna Carter of Mattapoisett and Carlene Paulino of Fairhaven; and step brother Paul Paulson of Mattapoisett.
On November 30, 1977, the Navigator left New Bedford for a ten-day trip in the waters east of Nantucket. That night, the scalloper made radio contact with the Oceanic, near the Great Round Shoal channel. The Navigator was never heard from again. The ship was reported overdue, and the Coast Guard began an extensive air-sea search on December 12 over 104,000 square nautical miles. The weather had been cold and snowy, with winds up to 40 knots and fifteen-foot seas. The Coast Guard ended the search on December 17, without finding the vessel, a life raft, or any of the thirteen crew members.
On January 8, 1978, an Italian fishing vessel recovered the body of crew member Richard W. Neild, 90 miles south of Martha's Vineyard.