Philanthropist, youth advocate Richard Kull dies

Written by Ann Richardson Monday, August 26, 2013 11:00 am

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Richard Kull Richard Kull

OCEAN CITY – Richard N. Kull, husband, father and grandfather, philanthropist, youth advocate and former chairman of the board of the Ocean City Tabernacle died Saturday morning, Aug. 24 at the age of 83.

“It’s very sad, he was such an important part of this community,” said Richard Stanislaw, CEO of the Tabernacle, who has worked closely with Kull over the years. “He was the driving force behind the children’s ministry at the Tabernacle.

“He would see a need and give whatever he could to help,” he said. “He funded a scholarship for the Tabernacle for students going into Christian service. He gave way beyond what anyone would suspect.”

Kull, of Ocean City, was born on Nov. 15, 1929 and attended high school in Mamaroneck, NY. Kull spent nine years in the U.S. Coast Guard before helping to build a brand of successful automobile dealerships. With his partner, Ed Burns, Kull co-founded the Burns Kull Automotive Group operating dealerships throughout New Jersey and Florida.

“He worked very hard,” Stanislaw said.

When he started in the automobile business, Stanislaw said that Kull first detailed cars.

“That was his first job. He wanted to sell them, but he had to start in the back,” he said.

Stanislaw said Kull was a very accomplished man who shared his talents with numerous organizations.

Kull was a member of the Civil Air Patrol, the Masonic Lodge in Mamaroneck NY, the Elks of Brick Township, president of the Brick Township Board of Education from 1957-1959, former president of the New Jersey Affiliate of the American Heart Association, recipient of the Howard J. Dayton Award for service to the American Heart Association, former chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association Ambassadors Program, and former chairman of the American International Automobile Dealers Association.

Stanislaw said it was Kull who suggested the Noah’s Ark replica be built into the side of an addition to the Tabernacle, which houses a nursery and activity center.

“He said that it should be cheerful and cartoony for a resort community. He had a vision,” he said.  

Kull and his wife, Mary Anne, were also the driving force behind adding a large youth center to the Tabernacle several years ago, dedicated as the Kull Youth Center.

“He made a major donation and was the push behind it,” Stanislaw said, adding that the center has helped the Tabernacle to greatly increase their focus on youth, providing entertainment and a venue to house traveling youth groups for overnight visits and other activities.

“We are very much feeling his loss,” Stanislaw said. “He was a good friend and a terrific advocate for the youth of Ocean City and youth ministry.

“Just look at what goes on at the Tabernacle. The Kull Youth Center serves thousands of youth each year. It’s just amazing.”

Stanislaw said Kull pushed to begin an afterschool program, which has been successful.

“We now have 20 percent of the school population here,” he said. “This was all part of his vision. It’s a place of safety and support throughout the winter. Over 150 students, from second through eighth grade, come after school every day for tutoring, a bible lesson and recreation. It’s such a valuable asset to our community and we have Richard and Mary Anne Kull to thank for it.”

Kull was chairman of the board of trustees at the Tabernacle from 2005 to 2008. The Kulls also supported St. Peter’s United Methodist Church, led by Rev. Brian Roberts.

“His leadership insights and leveraging of time and resources have helped many congregations, communities, hospitals, and agencies touch many,” Roberts said. “Their generosity also inspired others to give.”

Kull, he said, was a friend, partner in ministry, and mentor.

“As we would share lunch, he would share insights that would suggest key next steps, or ways to raise the bar, touch more people and make a difference in the world. He had a great ability to challenge others to step up with him to support, but did so in an way that was and is so positive – surprising many at what can be done as we work together for a common good,” Roberts said.

Kull’s life, he said, is a “vibrant legacy, a great American story that will continue through his dear wife and partner, Mary Anne, and others whose lives he touched and inspired.”

“I join so many near and far in thanking God for one very special good gift: Namely Richard Kull,” Roberts said. “Our world and we will all be better if we all follow his example of hard work and wide sharing, leading and serving with purpose and compassion. He was a great mentor and friend, and I will miss him.”

Kull is survived by his wife, Mary Anne; children, Lawrence Kull (Deborah), Richard Kull (Robin), Stephen Kull (Carolyn), John Kull, Susan Lanzavecchia (Peter), son-in-law James Gee, Scott Miller and Christopher Miller (Jamie), as well as many other family members.

He was predeceased by wife Dana Gaines Kull, parents Blanche Greenwood and Richard N. Kull Sr., and daughter Sandra Gee.

Visitation will be 5-9 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 29 at the Ocean City Tabernacle, 550 Wesley Ave. in Ocean City. The funeral service will be 11:30 a.m. Friday, Aug. 30 at the Ocean City Tabernacle, with a one hour visitation prior. Burial will follow in Seaside Cemetery in Palermo.

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