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UD Medals: Outstanding Citizen Jules Mermelstein, by Commissioner Rebecca Gushue

Commissioner Gushue shares her experiences with Mermelstein.

To honor this year's Upper Dublin Medal winners, Patch decided to reach out to friends and colleagues of the four individual honorees to share their inside perspectives. Yesterday we presented pieces on and Bill Kim, Outstanding Students, and today we'll present pieces on Outstanding Citizen Jules Mermelstein and Outstanding Educator Stephen Heck.

The Saturday mornings each have their own character. During the winter, darkness hovers as faint sun spills over the horizon, bringing the day ahead. But the seasons change and bring with them fresh perspective.

Today, a rainy day in May, Jules Mermelstein picks me up at 6:20 a.m., while most of Upper Dublin sleeps, and we head over to the high school to meet the rest of the award-winning Upper Dublin Forensics team.

Everyone but Jules feels a bit groggy as our one-hour commute to competition commences. By the time we return to the lot, Jules, the students and I will have logged over two hours of travel, 12 hours of competition and consumed countless pieces of lackluster “event pizza." Whether the students ranked in competition or not is irrelevant. Upper Dublin represented, gave 100 percent, and is proud.

For Jules Mermelstein, that Saturday was just another of the countless debate and speech events in which he organized, prepared students for, and gave up personal time to benefit the academic Forensic Team. For this endeavor alone, he deserves the Upper Dublin Medal Award.

But Jules, or Mr. Mermelstein, as the students call him, does much more for the community to earn the 2011 Upper Dublin Medal Award. 

In 1992, Jules Mermelstein joined the Upper Dublin Board of Commissioners as the representative for Ward 5, and brought with him leadership, insight, professional legal expertise and, most importantly, ethics.  Highlights of his tenure include:

  • The 19-year endeavor leading to the Ardsley Drainage Project
  • Acted as Board of Commissioners' president in 2008 and 2009
  • Fought to maintain our open space and championed environmental efforts
  • Integral influence on the comprehensive plan that the Board of Commissioners adopted in 2010.

Over almost two decades of public service, Jules gave everything he could of his time, energy and life to his community. It would take pages to list all of his contributions. As a resident, I can’t thank him enough for his years, even decades, of service to Upper Dublin.

Although a lawyer by profession, Jules decided he wanted to become a teacher after an exhilarating experience teaching at a Sandy Run’s Student Interest Day, when his daughter attended as a student. Jules taught in Philadelphia for two years and has been an Upper Dublin High School social studies teacher since 2007.  On long debate trips, I can’t even begin to count the number of times he told me about amazing projects and moments of pride he felt seeing students achieve.

In addition to his tireless public service, teaching, coaching and mentoring, Jules is an active member of the community. He is a member of the Upper Dublin Democratic Committee, fundraises for myasthenia gravis, teaches Sunday School at Or Hadash with his wife, Ruth, and conducts summer camps in public speaking and debate at Temple University’s Ambler Campus.

After a long day of competition, I am shocked at Jules’ energy level and commitment to the students, as days like this are tiring and take a toll on a person. But then again, action, perseverance and commitment have been the hallmarks of Jules’s life.

It is with great honor that I call Jules a friend.  He has done so much for Upper Dublin and our region at large.

Thank you, Jules Mermelstein, Upper Dublin Medal Award winner for 2011, for everything that you have done for our community and the greatness you will continue to achieve.

Written for Patch by Rebecca Gushue, who was appointed Mermelstein's replacement for Ward 5 Commissioner after he stepped down this year. Gushue ran unopposed and won the Democratic nomination for that position in last week's primary, and will face off against challenger Howard Ford this fall.

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