By NICOLE ANTONUCCI
Parishioners of St. Mary's Church, along with local officials, took a moment this morning to remember the Rev. James C. Gulley, who passed away early Saturday morning.
People described the 79-year-old pastor as a caring man who was there for anyone in need.
"Father Gulley was an inspiration to me," St. Mary's Sacristan George Shuttig said. "Gulley's mission in life was to serve God but also care for others and to serve them. He was on call 24/7 and if anyone needed him he was there."
Another parishioner said she got involved with the church after Gulley had helped her through a hard time 20 years ago despite not knowing who she was.
"That was how he was. He was too good-hearted and tried to make everyone happy," the parishioner named Dee said. "If he saw people had no bus money, he would give them money."
Gulley was born on Easter Sunday April 21, 1935, in Watervliet. He began he novitiate at the Institute of the Brothers of Christian School in 1955 and served as a LaSalle Institute Christian Brother for 24 years.
In 1978, he began theological studies at St. Mary's Seminary and University, Baltimore, where he earned a bachelor's degree in theology and a master's degree in divinity.
Gulley was ordained in 1981 and assigned as an associate pastor in Amsterdam where he had been serving as a deacon.
At St. Mary's, he fell under the guidance the Rev. Edward Glavin and upon Glavin's retirement in 1998, Gulley succeeded as pastor.
In the community, Gulley served on the Amsterdam Comprehensive Planning Committee, the Founding Board of the Inman Senior Citizen Organization, and the St. Mary's Hospital Advisory Board. He also served as the Amsterdam Fire Department Chaplain for many years.
"He came to many of our functions. He even conducted one or two masses for those lost in 9/11," Fire Department Chief Richard Liberti said, adding Gulley was well-liked by many. "He was very personable and easy to talk to. It was easy to forget that he was a priest."
After falling ill in 2008, Gulley retired to the Teresian House in Albany, where he had resided ever since.
"We used to go visit him and bring him pies," Dee said, laughing. "He loved Mrs. Smith pies."
St. Mary's Church secretary Betsy Barker, who worked for Gulley since 1989, said he was a great priest who inspired many people.
"We were all saddened by his passing but he is reunited with his family," she said. "We will miss him."
Gulley was predeceased by his sister Marie and brothers John, Joseph and the Rev. Anthony Gulley, who had also served St. Mary's Church until his passing in 2013.
Funeral services will be held Wednesday from 4 to 7 p.m. at St. Mary's Church, 156 E. Main St. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at the church Thursday at 11 a.m.
He will be buried in Troy with his family.