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Thursday, May 21

Obituary : Rev. Gary Kugler, who started Union City homeless shelter, dies at 76

UNION CITY—In the basement of a small church, a homeless shelter welcomed a wave of Cuban refugees who escaped to Union City.
Those who sought help found themselves in the care of Rev. Horst Gerhardt "Gary" Kugler, who not only served as pastor of St. John Lutheran Church but ultimately became a fixture in the community for more than 40 years.
After several decades of helping others, Kugler died on May 15 at Hackensack Medical Center, after a struggle with pancreatic cancer.
"It's a big loss to the community, especially the poor and needy of Union City and Hudson County," said Tom Harrigan, program director at the Palisades Emergency Residence Corporation (PERC). "He was very important to so many people."
Kugler opened the Union City homeless shelter in the 1980s, in a small room in his church, in response to an influx of Cuban immigrants who needed somewhere to stay, according to his obituary. The shelter eventually moved to the church's hall, and then relocated and became PERC. Harrigan has known Kugler since he started working for the shelter roughly 20 years ago.

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