Larry Stupski — A Tribute from GLIDE
He watches for the pitch, the release of ball
Into the air,
and with the perfect vision of his ready bat,
Hurls that small sphere
Like a replay of the sun that suspends there high,
For eternal seconds to shine
Upon us all.
(May 21, 2013)
We are proud and grateful at GLIDE to have been part of Larry Stupski’s life. “Larry,” says my husband, Cecil Williams, “taught us more about ‘breaking the cycles’ by creating a revolution of his own here.”
Larry Stupski served on the GLIDE Board from 2000-2008. GLIDE’s Chairperson Amy Errett, who invited Larry to join the Board, says that “Larry spearheaded many of the innovative GLIDE initiatives that we offer today as models for the country. I know my life and the lives of an enormous number of people were changed by Larry’s intelligence, heart and never ending passion to serve the most needy…”
Cecil Williams had many talks with Larry outside of board business: “Larry’s reach was so far… not only with his financial genius working with fellow board members to respond in new ways to stabilize and maximize GLIDE’s finances; but also modeled how to cycle out to those who were most marginalized in our society.” He loved to huddle and eat popcorn in the recovery circles with the men and women battling addictions to drugs and violence; and he was as candid and vulnerable about his feelings as the people in the circle.
“He was a thinker of staggering depth and insight, and easily dealt with issues of great complexity. His only personal agenda was one of service, quietly acting behind the scenes, and never seeking recognition. He was truly a Giant in my life,” states John Philip Coghlan, Larry’s friend and former colleague at Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. and a GLIDE Board member.
We all know about Larry’s love of baseball – as a minority owner of the Giants, he could have had the fanciest box seats available, but instead chose seats all over the stadium, so he could sit with different angles to observe the games. “Larry loved baseball as a sport and as a science,” says Kristin Ostby, former Director of GLIDE’s Global Ministries training programs, who worked with Larry when he first arrived at GLIDE along with the late Susie Buffett. Larry would observe and participate in different seats to see and understand and feel the diverse human experiences.
I believe Larry always saw and heard many different angles of in all of us: the people in our food lines, the circles of recovery, the children who needed special care and counseling because of the conditions of poverty or abuse. And his global view was vast. He and his wife, Joyce, who shared the vision for transformation of systemic problems affecting society’s most needy, created the Stupski Foundation to work with school districts throughout the country to help improve outcomes especially for poor and minority students.
Larry had a laser perception that could scare the daylights out of me and hold great love at the same time. He once said to me, “Cecil is completely comfortable with who he is. He walks into a room and his arms are open, totally confident that people wish to be embraced. And if they don’t, he’s ok with it. You, Janice, on the other hand, keep your arms more tightly at your sides, not sure that people will see you or accept you for who you are…” I think I treasured Larry the most in these intensely uncomfortable, intimate moments where the truth was his gift.
And we can still see him in the back seat of the sanctuary during GLIDE Sunday Celebrations, enjoying, as in the baseball stadium, the many diverse members of our beloved community and the music of the GLIDE Ensemble as they sing, “Keep Your Loving arms around me…”
We are blessed to have experienced Larry Stupski. We are blessed to have been seated in his universal stadium where he could view the many complex aspects of life’s gifts.
Larry, we hold your memory and we celebrate your life with our loving arms around you.
Janice Mirikitani on behalf of the GLIDE Family