Thursday, September 25, 2008
"Well, God is getting an earful today." - Jim Murray on the death of Casey Stengel
I first became aware, really aware, of Gus Suneson when he served on the Fall River City Council. The idea of putting a bingo hall up on Airport Road was a popular one with our city leaders and Gus was one of the minority of City Councilors who spoke out in opposition. I thought the bingo hall was a bad idea, still do, and took notice of the fiery City Councilor who spoke out against it with the same passion that I felt inside.
Back then I wasn't aware of the local political scene as I am now, and I actually saved clippings and made a list of the councilors I would vote for during the next election. Sure enough, next election I cast a vote for Gus Suneson, but I was in the minority and despite several more attempts Gus would never serve on the council again.
Time moves on and Gus became a familiar voice I would occasionally hear ranting and raving on WSAR when he would call in to give his opinion on whatever the day's topic was. I started to view Gus as an eccentric and somewhat of a crackpot. Eventually his fiery views got him banned as a caller.
It was about a year ago that I met Gus Suneson for the first time. Gus had been doing a cable show on local access, that I had not paid a great deal of attention to, by now firmly of the opinion that I expressed above. I approached this chance meeting knowing what to expect from Gus Suneson and found out that my expectations were completely wrong. Gus was more subdued than I ever would have expected and I realized that the fieryness, the ranting and the raving, were really this mans inability to contain the deep passion he had in his beliefs. The man I met that day was a genuinly decent, and nice guy. This was someone who was cared deeply about the world he lived in and the city he called home. After meeting Gus, I focused on what he said and not the way he way he said it. While I didn't always agree I respected the views he offered.
That November I voted to return Gus to the council. I felt that we needed an independent voice who was not afraid to speak his mind. With all the complaints about our current city council, I know we need a voice like Gus'
I met Gus only a few times and the last time he looked good and said he was getting better. It was disheartening to learn that he taken a turn for the worse and I am saddened by his passing. I wish we could have given Gus that one last shot at the council and know that somewhere "God is getting an earful today."