On Tuesday, March 10, Paul Popiel passed away after a short illness. He was 69.
Paul was born in New Jersey on May 2, 1950, to Marion and Walter Popiel, and raised in a very religious family, mostly in Brooksville, Florida. He moved to Chicago in the late 1960s, and graduated from Moody Bible Institute in 1970.
Paul was a member of Evangelicals Concerneda national network of gay and lesbian evangelical Christians and friendsin the early 1970s, and joined Good Shepherd Parish ( GSP ) Metropolitan Community Church ( MCC ) in April 1976. MCC is an international, predominately LGBTQ Christian denomination founded in 1968; GSP was one of the first congregations organized within the new denomination. GSP became a leader in Chicago's LGBTQ grassroots community in the late 1970s, an oppressive time when Anita Bryant began her national anti-gay "Save our Children" campaign. GSP was also instrumental in spiritually caring for people with HIV/AIDS from the beginning of the epidemic in the 1980s. Paul was an active participant throughout all of these challenges to the community.
For more than 40 years, until earlier this year, Paul was the owner and operator of the Mail Center of Chicago. Now based near Millennium Park, the Mail Center provides a Michigan Avenue address for business and personal customers. Under Paul's conscientious management, the Mail Center consistently received top reviews.
Paul set a wonderful example by being intellectually curious, diligent, politically-aware, honest and always kind. He quietly nurtured and grew his business and thereby supported many Chicago LGBTQ organizations, in particular GSP. A former pastor of GSP, Rev. Mary Brake, said, "Paul was a source of endless support for me and for GSP. He never sought the limelight, yet Paul was always there, undergirding the efforts of the group and the common good. He was truly 'a good and faithful servant' of God and diligently worked to make the world a better place."
Paul is predeceased by his parents and his brother, Philip, and by his beloved dogs, Precious and Lucy. He leaves behind his ex-partner and special friend, Dan Schmitt, and many friends from the business world, the LGBTQ community and the church. A public celebration of Paul's life will be scheduled and announced in the near future.