September 7, 2009

Lucien Wulsin: September 21, 1916 – August 23, 2009.

Parting is such sweet sorrow. ~ William Shakespeare (named as Lucien’s favorite quote on his Facebook page).

I never knew Lucien much, myself, but he was a familiar visual presence, a part of the tapestry that is Naropa University, he was always sweet and eccentric and wise, and…he will sincerely be missed, by many. ~ ed.

Via Denver Post, excerpt:

…Wulsin was 92 when he died Sunday at his Boulder home.

Always interested in music, “he couldn’t play the piano to save his life,” said his son, Winthrop.

Lucien Wulsin was on the boards of the Colorado Council on the Arts and Humanities, the board of the Denver (now Colorado) Symphony Orchestra and the Music Association of Aspen, and was on the music panel for the National Endowment for the Arts. His aim was always increased arts funding.

“I believe the health of the arts is a continuous, cliff-hanging proposition which can only exist if we exert ourselves to the utmost,” he said in a 1980 Denver Post interview.

Wulsin became interested in Buddhism and Naropa University in Boulder through a friend, served on the board and eventually became part of an intergenerational dance group. “The members ranged from 17-year-olds to my dad, who was the oldest, I’m sure,” said Winthrop Wulsin. “It was a modern interpretative dancing.”

Wulsin “liked the philosophy and mindset of Buddhism,” said his son, and the “wholesomeness and inclusiveness of Buddhism without the hubbub of other religions.”

“He was charming, bright, outgoing, creative, serious- minded and sensitive,” said John Cobb of Boulder, former president of Naropa. “People loved him . . . and they went to him for advice.”…for the rest, click here.

Via Daily Camera, excerpt:

…He brought his business experience to his role as the first chairman of the board of Naropa University, a liberal arts institution founded on Buddhist teachings and dedicated to contemplative education, where he shepherded the school through the accreditation process.

Carol Grever, a former board member who served with Wulsin, remembered him as a leader with “soft tenacity” who could bring the strong personalities on the board to consensus.

“He could push things through, but nobody ever felt pushed,” she said.

When he met the Dalai Lama, the holy man embraced Wulsin and touched his forehead to Wulsin’s, a greeting between equals.

“I was so impressed that he recognized him as an equal, recognized the spiritual quality in him, the leadership quality in him,” Grever said.

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, one of the founders of the Jewish Renewal movement and a professor emeritus at Naropa, remembers meeting Wulsin at his first interview at Naropa.

“There was this amazing older gentleman with a ponytail, and you don’t meet too many older men with ponytails,” he said.

The two men participated in a regular colloquium together and discussed any topic that came up. Schachter-Shalomi said Wulsin was particularly interested in issues around aging.

“What I remember is the way he wanted to use his body until the very end,” Schachter-Shalomi said. “I’ll miss him.”

Lynne Katzmann, a Naropa board member, said Wulsin was her friend and also her mentor.

“He was my go-to guy,” she said. “He was the kind of guy you could go to on a business question, but he also just had a vast wealth of life experience to draw upon and share different perspectives.”

Katzmann said Wulsin continued to embrace new experiences throughout his life, and Naropa gave him an opportunity to do that. In exchange, he brought Naropa institutional credibility by turning it into an accredited university…

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