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A memorial service was held for Jeffrey Cuss, who was fatally struck by a car along Landis Avenue, at the Spirit & Truth Ministries Soup Kitchen in Vineland on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. Adam Monacelli, Vineland Daily Journal

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VINELAND - Jeffrey Cuss, quick with a joke or an offer of help, found an extended family at the Spirit & Truth Ministries.

And they miss him.

Before the regular crowd arrived for Thursday’s noon meal, Cuss’s friends held a memorial service in the First United Methodist Church basement to celebrate the life of the 57-year-old city man. Cuss died Jan. 26 after he was struck by a car along Landis Avenue, near Delsea Drive, just after 6 a.m. He may have just left a Code Blue shelter, his friends said.

“He loved the soup kitchen,” said Thomas Stinson, who called Cuss a friend for more than a decade and wanted him remembered for more than a name on a police report. Cuss, he said, was humble, funny and generous.

“He gave what he could,” Stinson said. “If someone didn’t have a plate, he would always turn around and give his plate to the next person or make sure somebody else had something to eat.”

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Pastor Michael Denelsbeck recalled meeting Cuss for the first time while volunteering at the soup kitchen.

“He thanked me for helping serve that day; Jeff always made it a point to stop and thank whoever was working,” Denelsbeck said. “We had a few chances to talk, Jeff and I, he also told me on a few occasions how I could do what I was doing better.”

Cuss’s friends laughed recalling Cuss’ unsolicited tips.

“It was usually just his way of trying to help,” the pastor said.

Stephen W. Jones, a soup kitchen volunteer, thanked God for Cuss’s time on earth.

“He was a funny man, always looking to cheer me up when he saw me on the street riding my bike coming to the soup kitchen,” Jones said. “He was always thankful for a meal, always willing to help, and giving advice, not just for me, but for the community and politically.”

“He never held back,” Jones said, acknowledging the challenges Cuss faced “living with problems unknown, he clung to liquid and chemical devices to numb the pain.”

Soup kitchen volunteer Angela Martin shared how Cuss loved her grandkids, often giving her the desserts he got.

“Give it to the kids because I got diabetes,” he would joke.

Denelsbeck noted Cuss touched many lives, adding “many that we may not have realized.”

“It’s hard for us to let go of Jeff,” he said, offering mourners comfort that Cuss is now is heaven. “He’s probably telling Christ how things could be done better right now.”

“We need not fret over missing Jeff; he will always be in our hearts through the great memories that you have,” the pastor told Cuss’ friends. “Every time you remember something he did or said, or a small act of kindness that you had seen him share, and you smile, Jeff is there with you.”

The Vineland Police Traffic Safety Unit spoke with those at the soup kitchen about pedestrian safety. Two other men were hit along South Delsea Drive during a nine-day span in January.

Ronnie Rice, 50, of the 1000 block of Michael Avenue, died Jan 18 after he was struck by two vehicles on Delsea Drive, near Chimes Terrace.

Ray A. Jones, 51, of the 800 block of North Main Road, was struck by a northbound car as he crossed the highway headed toward Foster Avenue just after 7:30 p.m. Jan. 27 and cited for jaywalking.

Deborah M. Marko: 856-563-5256; dmarko@gannettnj.com; Twitter: @dmarko_dj

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Volunteers at the First United Methodist Church soup kitchen in Vineland prep for a Super Bowl gathering in the church basement. Adam Monacelli, Vineland Daily Journal

 

 

 

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