Thursday, September 25, 2008

Gus Suneson


"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."

3 comments:

Jeff said...

Thank you for taking the time to write a reflection on your experience, views and interaction with Gus. I am one of Gus's sons-in-law and maintain the Gus Suneson blog. I previously mentioned your blog on the site because I think it's useful and helpful for Fall River to have places to talk about Fall River issues online. It was always the intention that the Gus Suneson blog would be a similar forum for discussion of Fall River, but unfortunately we didn't get it running in time. ...

I'm sure Gus would have appreciated your support. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

There were few people who agreed with Gus' politics, but no one could ever doubt his honesty or the sincere believes with he held. He brought a point of view that caused people to stop and think about what was going on. The city of Athens in ancient Greece had a man by the name of Socrates who was often called a gad fly. He was not the most popular person among his fellow citizens, but his questions and his opinions made his city stronger. In many ways that was the role the Gus Suneson tried to play. He will be missed by all of us who are not smuggly sure of the correctness of all our ideas.

Lefty said...

Jeff,

My thoughts are with you and your family. I really can't adequately say what an enjoyable pleasure it was to meet Gus and talk to him on those handful of occasions.

I truly feel that anyone who got to meet Gus, even for a moment, instantly grew fond of him. I know I did, and I regret not having had the chance to know him better.

Gus was special and his absence will be keenly felt. Two other bloggers have also posted their recollections of Gus:

FallRiverMA.TV

HMS Impossible