Nicole Antonucci/Recorder staff More than 40 members of the clergy attnded the funeral mass for the Rev. James Gulley at St. Mary's Church, Amsterdam, Thursday.
Nicole Antonucci/Recorder staff Bearers carry the casket of the Rev. James Gulley from St. Mary's Church, passing clergymen and members of the Amsterdam Fire Department who line the sidewalk Thursday.
By NICOLE ANTONUCCI
More than 200 residents, firefighters and clergymen filled the pews of St. Mary's Church in Amsterdam Thursday for the funeral of the Rev. James Gulley, who passed away Saturday.
The Mass lasted nearly two hours, as those closest to the 79-year-old pastor spoke about his life and shared personal stories that -- for the most part -- involved Gulley getting into mischief.
"The hallmark of his whole life was having time for other people. He would make them feel important and special. He touched their lives," said Gulley's close friend, the Rev. John Bradley.
Bradley gave the homily during the Mass and spoke about Gulley's life, growing up with his siblings, including his brother, the late Rev. Anthony Gulley, graduating from La Salle Institute in Troy, and beginning his novitiate at the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools.
"As a Christian Brother, he taught in schools all over," Bradley said. "The key here is that in addition to the subjects, he also taught and led the school musicals and plays. He loved that. He loved music and dancing and the plays."
Former Bishop Howard Hubbard said Gulley's love for music and dancing also got him in trouble at the Taresian House, where he went upon retirement.
"All the ladies in his unit were attracted to him. They all wanted him to sit with him to watch TV or ride on the bus," Hubbard said, generating laughter from the congregation. "It got so bad they had to move Father Gulley for his own peace and serenity."
In his eulogy, T.J. Dwyer, a close friend and former student of St. Mary's Institute, also shared stories of Gulley getting into mischief.
Dwyer said he met Gulley for the first time in third grade at St. Mary's Institute in 1981 where Gulley was a disciplinarian and known as the "guard of the trash can," as he would inspect every student's lunch tray.
Yet Gulley was more known for his sense of humor, Dwyer said, recalling an incident one Easter Sunday where as an alter boy, he had to follow Gulley to the back of the church as he sprinkled holy water over the parishioners.
"We get to the end of the church and he turns his mike off. He turns to me and said, 'Race ya!' Here we are on Easter Sunday racing up the aisle of the church to the alter," Dwyer said.
And, according to Dwyer, Gulley also loved music and sweets. "I think he knew where every ice cream store was around here," he said.
Dwyer said that everyone knew him and in some way he was a part of their life, whether through baptism, confirmation, a wedding, or other events.
St. Mary's was the only parish Gulley served.
"He loved this parish and he loved this city. He raved about you all the time," Bradley said.
Dwyer added that Gulley called it home.
After the Mass, the funeral procession of about 20 cars led by two Amsterdam fire trucks made its way through the city. The procession's first stop was the Amsterdam Fire Department, where Gulley had served as chaplain for many years.
As the procession paused in front of the firehouse, firefighters stood at attention while sounding for the Rev. Gulley his final bell.