Michael Wrublewski – the funeral service and eulogy

September 2, 2009 by Odile Faludi
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Thousands today, 2nd September, flocked in a sea of sunshine to The Temple Emanuel Synagogue in Woollahra, Sydney, to pay their final respects, to the King of Hearts, Michael Wrublewski, OAM.

mikewrubheadEach mourner received at the funeral, a bookmark with a beautiful photo of Michael with his smiling eyes saying, “If you succeed, wonderful! If you fail, open another door and try something else. Never give up until you make your dreams come true.”  He walked the talk and made all his dreams come true from hard work and determination.

So much has been said about Michael and his accomplishments in the past that today the focus at the service was “on the man”. He was an incredibly lucky man as Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins explained who firstly addressed the mourners. He was then followed by Michael’s eldest son, Adam Wrublewski. Both Rabbi Kamins and Adam could not resist talking freely about the two women who had a profound affect on his life and both gave him families he adored. Most men are lucky to have had the love of one good woman but Michael had the love of two which endured him to the very end. His first wife, Cynthia, was his childhood sweetheart and together they had a wonderful marriage which gave him two sons Adam, 37 and David 35. Michael then went on to marry Shauna Wilson giving him a second family with the birth of his two beautiful daughters Sasha 11, and Zali, 7. Both women were highly intelligent and confident and knew the importance of family. Towards the end, he was surrounded by his favourite women, Shauna his wife, Cynthia, his ex wife and Suanne, his baby sister who he absolutely adored. There was a sense of camaraderie amongst the woman as they rallied around him and helped him through his days of pain.

It was very clear from both eulogies presented today from Rabbi Kamins and Adam Wrublewski that Michael always was a straight shooter, honest to the core, but sincere above all. Michael will be dearly missed and had no regrets except for the time he would miss out of his young daughter’s lives. That was his saddest thought but beyond that he lived a life every man envied and a life blessed with many good things.

Following is the full text of the eulogy delivered by Rabbi Jeffrey B. Kamins

It is hard to believe that it was just on June 6 I saw Mike here at Emanuel Synagogue for one of the programs of our cultural fund; Mike looked great that evening.  Spurred on by the celebrations of Bat and Bar Mitzvah of his nieces and nephews Sami Jo, Joel, Gemma and Sam ( the primary occasions through which I first got to meet him) he had been coming to learn Hebrew with Sasha earlier this year. While supporting her in connection to community, Mike added Hebrew  to his language repertoire that included Yiddish, Polish, and an understanding of German, expanding his connection to the Jewish community, through which there had been great affiliation not just in Maccabi sport but in many other ways as well.  Mike had developed an interest in the origin of life on this planet, and his learning here was also part of that exploration.

With my strong connections to Suanne and Laurence and their family, and Harry and Sara and theirs, I was looking forward over time to getting to know Michael better.  But it was only shortly after that cultural evening here that Suanne came to tell me the horrible news: just as their father had died of pancreatic cancer at age 64, so too Mike had been diagnosed with the same disease just before his 63rd birthday and the prognosis was bad.  We all know how Mike did his best to live on green juice, ginger, chemotherapy and any alternative – but nothing helped.  Over these months I have had a few opportunities to engage in conversation with Mike in preparation for this day. He was never a man for idle chit chat, and conversations ha d depth, meaning and purpose; words were direct and honest. When I said farewell to him and Shauna at Prince of Wales after his chemo three weeks ago, I had no idea the day of his death about which we spoke would come so soon.

Michael Wrublewski passed away on the morning of Shabbat Ki Tetzei, where the Torah reading begins, “when you take the field against your foes”, and is understood by the Jewish tradition to refer to overcoming life’s challenges – and in many ways we can see Michael as one who loved a challenge and especially to overcome it.   He inherited from his Polish survivor parents, Sam and Helen, much of his understanding and approach to life: “to survive you must be tough, failure is not accepted” or put another way, “you must not show weakness – if you can walk away from a confrontation you must do so, but if you cannot, you must win”, or even “results are everything”. From his parents he had a strong ethic of learning and work, which motivated him to pursue wealth and status with singleminded purpose and to achieve all that he did.  Many of us were together just a few weeks ago at a farewell roast for him that also served as a fundraiser for a foundation he began to help children with disadvantage have opportunity in sport.   Many stories were told of Mike’s life then, and shortly his eldest child Adam will relate more, but first I would like to offer some words of condolence to the family.

It so happens that the Torah reading of Ki Tetzei also speaks a lot about women, and women were so much a feature of Mike’s life.  First came his mom Helen, who gave him vision and whom he adored.  Next came the baby, his sister, “Princess” Suanne, for whom he was both protective brother and guiding father figure, walking her down the aisle when she married Laurence. He married his high school sweetheart Cynthia, and they raised two wonderful sons in Adam and David; with their strong personalities and fiery temperaments, the marriage did not last, but the loving friendship did.   It was only a few weeks ago, on one of his bad days, Mike had Suanne, Cynthia and Shauna surrounding him in his home, lovingly holding him and caressing him through his pain and discomfort.

Mike had met Shauna around the time Adam and David were on their way out of home and off to uni and to build their own lives. Mike told Shauna, “you would be my perfect flame”, but she did not buy the line at first. Mike was typically persistent – failure was not an option and results were everything – and eventually got his way, the two getting married on the stage set of Beauty and the Beast with just five week’s notice.  What made Mike different from the other men Shauna knew was that he wanted commitment and more children.

Mike had a philosophy that when one door closes another door opens, and his life with Shauna gave him new opportunities – not for external challenges as much as internal ones.  Shauna had an enormous influence on him, for she would not react when he had his explosive moments – he could be very black and white about things and at times caustic in comment – but she would hang in there with him, be responsive and not reactive, and help him see the deeper issues behind his feelings. With Shauna he had more female presence with the birth of their gorgeous daughters, Sasha and Zali, the latest extension to the Wrublewski family. Throughout these years, the Wrublewski clan has gotten together for many a simcha, as well as to celebrate Shabbat and festivals – Mike was at the core of an extended, loving family.

Mike was a man of incredible strength and vision – you felt it in his handshake, you saw it in his eyes and you heard it in his voice.  Once, visiting him at Prince of Wales, he clearly expressed that he had no fear of this moment, and expressed how complete his life had been, from his achievement in sport and business, to the great adventures around the world with so many close friends, to his loving and complete family.  He had no regret for having missed out on anything – except for one thing. And those were the years ahead that he had planned with Shauna and Sasha and Zali.

Mike lived with the thought that one door closes and another door opens.  A door into a different part of life, one about which he read and thought deeply, has opened and only Mike among us knows what is there on that side.  On this side, a door has closed for us – and we will miss this man of strength, vision, achievement, generosity and ultimately of family love. In his final days, Mike was incredibly nurtured and acknowledged how amazing it was to be loved so much and so well. May that love and goodness continue to stay with all of you, his legacy and memory always a blessing.


One Response to “Michael Wrublewski – the funeral service and eulogy”
  1. bob evans says:

    As the former GM/CEO of the Sydney Superdome (now ACER Arena)I spent many hours with Mike Wrublewski putting together business plans to launch the Arena with his Kings Team as a focal point of any plan. To Mike there were only two types of day : a terrific day and a semi terrifice day. If the latter was the morning news throughtout the day Mike was always trying to lift the standard of play on and off the court to the terrific level – always with a smile.
    He will be missed.

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