The small crowd of family, friends and longtime residents of Georgetown that gathered on the sweeping lawn of Tudor Place on Saturday afternoon, April 6, were of varied ages and backgrounds. But they all agreed on two things: Ray Kukulski, a past president of the Citizens Association of Georgetown, had been a significant presence in their lives and he would be greatly missed.
“Ray’s life was the epitome of service to others,” said the Rev. Kevin FitzGerald, S.J., a longtime friend of Ray’s and a professor of biology and bioethics at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. FitzGerald taught for many years at Georgetown University. “He constantly illustrated the old saying that the best way to have a friend is to be one.”
Everyone who spoke from the flower-filled podium on the historic mansion’s front steps told stories about Kukulski continually offering his time, skills and boxes of electrical, plumbing and carpentry tools to help his friends and neighbors with repairs and restorations, large and small. His home on 30th Street was the site of many celebrations, meals and house guests.
“Ray was a regular visitor to the Peabody Room in the Georgetown Library,” said Jerry McCoy, special collections librarian and archivist. “He was constantly looking things up and brought treasures he had found and literally dug up around the town to add to the Georgetown historical collections.”
“He also was a constant supporter of Tudor Place,” said Director Mark Hudson. “Sometimes we’d see him urging new visitors to buy memberships.”
Other friends spoke of wonderful trips they had taken together and of regular Sunday evening dinners in the Omelette Room at Clyde’s. But most Georgetowners had contact of a sort with Kukulski every single day, thanks to his diligent postings of Georgetown police reports, neighborhood alerts and coming community events in a regular blog he called the Georgetown Forum.
“He was an extraordinary man,” said Perry Saidman. A part-time resident of Miami, Saidman had once rented Kukulski’s basement apartment and remained good friends with him ever since.
Kukulski collapsed suddenly at Sibley Hospital on Jan. 10, apparently of an aneurysm or a brain hemorrhage. He had recently turned 77. His ashes were interred in Oak Hill Cemetery in a private ceremony conducted by the Rev. Stephen Fields, S.J., who also spoke at the Tudor Place memorial.