member story

Tom Guback

From the silver screen to the pulpit

By Jennie Berkson

If you were to think of a career change a person might select, the move from being an academic with a research specialty in the international film business to Episcopal priest probably wouldn’t be one that would come to mind immediately.

But for ShareCare member Tom Guback it made sense.

Born and raised in the New York City area, Tom found his way to the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana as a professor in the Communications Department focusing on the industrial and economic systems of the American film business.  During that time, he met his late wife Sylvia Linde-Guback.

“We were both involved in the local arts and music scene,” he said. “A woman who lived across the street had a surprise birthday party.  I was invited and so was Sylvia.”  They married in 1988.

Sometime after that, Tom began to drift away from his research in the workings of the film industry.

“I became more generally interested in the problems of welfare and equity,” he said.  “I was opened up to Scripture and what Christianity was doing about these issues.”

Although baptized in the Russian Orthodox Church, Tom had not been active in some time and was drawn to the Episcopal Church, where Sylvia was involved.

“There was more of a focus on social justice and social action.  I thought I heard a call to ordained orders,” he said.

And so, in 1997 he retired from academia and went to seminary in Wisconsin and was ordained in 2000.

Tom and Sylvia had been coming to Leelanau County since the 1980s, spurred on by a friend of Sylvia’s.

“She told us that there were many parts of Michigan that were very nice, but that we belonged in Leelanau County.”

Over the years, they moved from a condo in Glen Arbor to a home on M22 one mile south of the Happy Hour.  After Sylvia died in 2018, Tom found the house to be too big and he now enjoys his condo in Suttons Bay.

As residents of Leelanau County, they had a natural connection to Saint Christopher’s Church in Northport.  Tom became the rector there in 2000 and served until 2007, getting special dispensation to serve one year beyond his required retirement age of 70.

“I still help out with Sunday services when needed,” he said.  “I’m glad to be retired and to make the position available to someone else.”

Tom’s been a member of ShareCare for “at least 20 years. I thought it was a good and worthwhile social service, I was impressed by it and how it benefitted the community and that someday we might benefit from it too.”  In 2005, Tom had a pacemaker implanted. 

“At the time, Anne Kelly was working for ShareCare and she came out and made sure my incision was healing properly.”  He also recalled that Sylvia may have received some services following surgeries.

Tom loves to cook, read and listen to music. 

“I prefer to cook Continental European cuisine, although I’ve recently moved into more of a plant-based diet with less of a reliance on processed food and meat.”

He’s most interested in Classical and Baroque music and recently finished reading local author Emita Hill’s book Northern Harvest: Twenty Michigan Women in Food and Farming.

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