Rev. Gary Kugler Way: Named for beloved pastor and tireless homeless advocate


The Union City Board of Commissioners and others celebrated the life of Rev. Horst Gerhardt ‘Gary’ Kuglar Wednesday.

They named 36th Street from Palisade Avenue to New York Avenue “Rev. Gary Kugler Way” in honor of the late pastor’s work and dedication to the city’s residents.

Kugler opened the Union City homeless shelter in the 1980s and was ordained and installed as pastor of St. John Lutheran Church in 1966, where he served for 49 years until his death in 2015.

Responding to the needs of an influx of Cuban immigrants more than two decades ago, the shelter eventually relocated to the church’s hall, and then moved and became PERC.

His daughters, sister and wife were all on hand to remember the man loved by so many.

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Jillian has a passion for news, giving voice to the voiceless and telling stories that make an impact. A New Jersey native, she spent the past two years as a multimedia journalist/one-man-band at WTAP-TV, the NBC affiliate in Parkersburg, West Virginia, where she covered everything from meth busts to fracking to the homeless to a young man struck by lightening. She was her news director’s “go to health reporter” and also covered many education and political stories. She frequently interviewed the mayors of Parkersburg, Vienna and Williamstown, WV and Belpre and Marietta, Ohio. She interviewed OH Gubernatorial Candidate Ed Fitzgerald and OH Congressional Candidate Jennifer Garrison, as well as WV Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and WV Senator Joe Manchin. Jillian was a regular fixture at the local police, sheriff’s departments, prosecutors’ offices and courthouses. Many looked forward to her ‘Mom of the Month’ series. Her story about two women who lost their children to heroin was widely recognized, along with her much loved piece on the Battle Against Cystic Fibrosis band camp. In her free time, Jillian enjoys yoga; working out, live music, spending time with friends on both coasts and the Mid-Ohio Valley. Follow on Twitter @JillianRis


  1. The congregation and church council of St. John Lutheran Church are very grateful to the members of Mayor Brian Stack’s administration for honoring our beloved late pastor, the Rev. Horst Gerhardt Kugler, with the naming of 36th Street from Palisade to NY Avenues June 29. He hosted the first ecumenical service for the homeless in 1991, started the homeless shelter int he church basement, which was later incorporated as Palisades Emergency Residence Corp. under the leadership of Bob Leber, started a coffeehouse in the church basement, a prenatal clinic with his wife, and ministered to his congregation and neighbors for 49 years.


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