Juras—Michael S. Juras, 62, on September 7, 2017, in Columbia, S.C., unexpectedly, with his loved ones by his side. Michael was born on November 12, 1954, in Fontainebleau France, to Agnes and Stanley Juras, in a hospital once used for Napoleon’s horses. He made substantial environmental contributions in his work for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.
He attended Columbia (S.C.) Meeting for many years, authoring the Building Use Policy, which continues to guide the meeting, and planting a circle of love around the meetinghouse with gardens, orchards, and randomly scattered flowers. He offered loving care to all of his green leaf friends. His conversation reflected his wide range of interests, and he did everything with childlike glee. His joy was infectious, and one of his favorite activities was listening to poetry, such as these lines from gardener/poet Ross Gay’s “Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude”:
thank you zinnia, and gooseberry, rudbeckia
and pawpaw, Ashmead’s kernel, cockscomb
and scarlet runner, feverfew and lemonbalm;
thank you knitbone and sweetgrass and sunchoke
and false indigo whose petals stammered apart
by bumblebees good lord please give me a minute . . .
and moonglow and catkin and crookneck
and painted tongue and seedpod and johnny jump-up;
thank you what in us rackets glad
what gladrackets us;
The gladness, beauty, and exuberance of those lines connect Friends to the earth and to Michael. He appreciated the night sky and the sounds of the wildlife in the evening. He spent his last First Day teaching the young Friends how to tie knots. He loved playing Frisbee and encouraged whoever was interested to join him, including a nonagenarian who played with youthful enthusiasm. He was a master cook, and despite some shyness about sharing his talents, occasionally favored Columbia Friends with one of his creations. He loved music, and on the birthday following his death, which fell on a First Day, a Friend evoked his qualities by playing the Beatles song “Blackbird” on the guitar.
The 2018 Palmetto Friends Gathering especially missed his contributions to the children’s program and his intense, active spirit, which generated excitement and joy for young and old alike. Columbia Friends miss him profoundly, but know that when they experience love and the present moment, his spirit is with them.
Michael is survived by his partner, Priscilla Preston; six siblings, Bill Juras (Gabriele), Anne Marie Johnson (Jim), John Juras (Kristen), David Juras (Melissa), Elizabeth Legnani (Garry), and Philip Juras (Beth Gavrilles); and many nieces and nephews.