The Rev. Rudolph “Rudi” Czuczka Gelsey died on May 30, 2018 at the age of 92.
Rudi was born on February 24, 1926 in Vienna, Austria, to Alfred and Elizabeth Czuczka. He graduated from University of Geneva, Switzerland with Master’s in Political Science in 1946. In 1947, he worked on his thesis: Theories of European Federation Between the Two WW, representing the Graduate Institute of International Affairs, Geneva. He was a co-founder in Paris of Interuniversity Federalist Union, which consisted of college professors and students for the European Union. In 1949, Rudi emigrated from Europe to Canada, and ultimately settled in the United States in 1959. Prior to immigration, he fled from Nazi’s Austria to Croatia, and then from Switzerland and France. In 1962, he earned his Bachelor of Divinity from Meadville Lombard Theological School, including study at the University of Chicago Divinity School.
Rev. Gelsey was ordained on January 1, 1962 at the First Unitarian Church in South Bend, ID, where he served in his first ministry until 1964. From 1964 to 1969, Rev. Gelsey served as a General Secretary at Universalist Church of the Restoration in Philadelphia, PA and then ministered for four years at UU Fellowship of Northern Westchester in Mount Kisco, NY. Over the next two and half decades, Rev. Gelsey carried out a series of vital interim and called ministries, at the following sites: The First UU Church of Detroit (1973-1983); UU Church of Buffalo (1983-1984); First UU Church of Niagara (1984-1990); and the UU Fellowship New River Valley, Blacksburg, VA (1996-1999). Finally, Rev. Gelsey served the UU Congregation, Blacksburg, as a Board Member for six months before retiring from Unitarian Universalist Ministry in June 1999.
Rev. Gelsey carried out a great deal of service on behalf of the denomination. He authored a new version of the Hebrew Bible, Imagine…A New Bible (1982), which fosters peacemaking, nonviolence, gender-partnership, and responsible stewardship of the earth. He also served for some fifteen years, as a Rotarian Board Member, program chair, editor of the newsletter, and co-leader of the Rotarian group to France. In 1984, for his contribution to the expanse of spirituality and meditation, Gelsey was initiated into Sufi Order of West, with a Sufi name Jelal’uddin meaning “the power of faith.” He presented “A Faith for the Global Village: A Dialogue among Religions in Search of Mutual Appreciation” at the Parliament of World’s Religion in Chicago, Illinois. He also attended and networked the Parliament of World’s Religion held in Barcelona, in Spain in 2004.
His fifty years as a Unitarian Universalist minister has encompassed civil rights, peace crusade, environmental nurturance and interfaith programs and panels. He was keenly interested in theater, concerts, chamber music, movies, ballet. He also had immense love for nature, and enjoyed hiking, and cross-country skiing. His desire for intellectual, philosophical, and theological clarity was colossal. He believed in pluralism and openness to variety of religious expressions, which made him transform from a born Jewish to Catholic and ultimately UU minister.
Rudi is survived by his children Florence Pinfield, Andy Gelsey, and Alex Gelsey; his five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his wife Trudi.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to a charity of one’s own choosing; to the Kavod Senior Life, Attn. Gifts Department, 22 South Adams Street, Denver, CO 80209; or to Garden Terrace, 1600 S. Potomac St, Aurora, CO 80012.
A private memorial service was held on Thursday, June 7, 2018.
Notes of condolence may be sent to Andy and Felicia Gelsey at 20780 E. Euclid Drive, Centennial, CO 80016.