If possible, you might try to find someone with Word97 to see if the file will open on their computer. You might also try WordPad to see if it will open in Word 6 format without the headers, footers and index.
There are certain characters that the user can introduce into a PAF database (curly braces and backslashes, most notably) that can cause errors and possible crashes in the RTF conversion in the Text Editor program. In general, former versions of Word used to handle these errors pretty well up to the point of the error. At least that seemed to be the case with the Ultimate Family Tree (UFT) program RTF exports.
I think I read that PAF 188.8.131.52 and subs do not support Text Editor linking. If by chance you had some sort of linking entered previously in your data, and it has not been removed, that might somehow cause a problem with the RTF export to Word 2002.