Sunday, November 7, 2010

Mr. Jule Sugarman, Unitarian Universalist, and an amazing man

We lost a treasure of our church community this week. Mr. Jule Sugarman died on Wednesday afternoon. At the end he was surrounded by people who loved him and kept vigil that last day, holding him in love and care.

This lovely church community that I serve will miss him, dearly. He lived a long and wonderful life. He was a man who lived to serve. He was profiled by the Washington Post and the New York Times and given much of the credit for getting Head Start off the ground as well as running it for most of its first five years.

But here's what I know about Jule. He never gave up. I was a brand new Religious Educator when Jule and his wife Candy first came to our church. I met them at a picnic down by Puget Sound. They were kind and full of energy, lovely folks. After a few years Jule became the president of our congregation. I attend monthly board meetings and offer reports about the children and youth programs. During Jule's presidency my reports were often peppered with mention of the inadequate space for classes and the difficulty of holding classes in foyer outside a restroom or behind a felt partition in the gym-like hall at the Masonic Temple we rented.

Jule listened. But he didn't just take it in. He made a plan. And....he never gave up. Never. I had long since decided that perhaps we just needed to use yurts or portable classrooms perched in the Mason's parking lot. Or perhaps nothing would ever really happen to give us the space we needed to provide a great religious education for our kids.

But Jule continued to host "New Home" committee meetings, he continued to look for creative options. He never gave up. I very distinctly remember him showing me plans he'd drawn up for one creative option and saying "look at that, Kari, think about what you can do in those spaces!"

Jule was absolutely convinced that there was a way. Somehow, that we would have a church home of our own. He was even mentioned in the Seattle Times article this fall.

And here we are, in our new church building. Two weeks ago Jule came to the dedication of our new building. I believe it was his last outing. Thank God that he was here.

Jule's spirit and dedication live on in every child touched by Head Start, in every person he helped through the programs and social action he championed. And his spirit lives here in the Westside Unitarian Universalist Congregation, in the reality that came from the dream he wouldn't let die.

Blessings, Jule. We are deeply thankful for all you gave us. And, we really miss you.


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