Delmar Gusdal was the one who led the effort to form LSF. He was involved from the beginning when we were a handful of missions across the state – most of which he had a hand in starting. Delmar wore multiple hats in those days – the mid ‘70s – he was an educator of clergy and congregations and he led the effort between the then three Lutheran bodies to address social needs in the communities.
Delmar remained the Executive Director until 1986 when he was called to help a struggling congregation in Montgomery, AL. He later returned to Florida and joined the LSF Board for 9 years.
It was during that time that I met Delmar as he was on the committee that hired me as the CEO. I formed a deep friendship with Delmar over the years. I was sad to learn from his wife that he recently passed away.
They say life is the sum of your choices, and for Delmar, that couldn’t have been truer.
He chose action when he saw an elderly woman walking around on a dark and rainy night, and he offered to take her home—an act that sparked his love for service.
He chose compassion when he learned there was a 19-room youth shelter that was up for re-bid and found 19 congregations to each sponsor a room, founding what would become Lippman Youth Shelter.
He chose love when he developed a social services program for migrant workers in the Belle Glade area, providing extensive services like medical care, a credit union, and a Head Start program for preschool children of the workers.
He chose service companionship when he helped with the 1980s refugee crisis, resettling those in desperate search of love and refuge. He harnessed the power and resources from all of his social ministries to help.
And those choices led to the formation of Lutheran Services Florida.
The sum of Delmar’s choices was a life of service to others, an example for those of us searching for ways to create more meaning, not just for ourselves, but for others. Let us follow his model for how to be the hands and feet of Christ, and spend our days at LSF choosing love, compassion and service.
Sam Sipes, President and CEO
Lutheran Services Florida