Sulie Harand, legendary arts educator, has died at 97 | Bleader

Sulie Harand, legendary arts educator, has died at 97

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Sulie Harand and two campers, Samantha and Rachel Gross - DAVID GROSS
  • David Gross
  • Sulie Harand and two campers, Samantha and Rachel Gross

Arts educator, singer, actress, and entrepreneur Sulie Harand passed away peacefully in her sleep on Saturday, August 6, four days after her 97th birthday. Sulie, born August 2, 1919, was cofounder of Harand Camp of the Theatre Arts, a summer camp devoted to offering youngsters experience in musical theatre, grounded in the traditional summer-camp experience of sports, arts and crafts, and social activities—"fun in the sun," but also behind the footlights.

Sulie and her sister, actress Pearl Harand, cofounded the camp in 1955 with their husbands, businessmen Byron Friedman and Sam Gaffin. The camp is still going strong today under the direction of Sulie and Byron's daughter, Judy Friedman Mooney, and Pearl and Sam's daughters, Janice Gaffin Lovell and Nora Gaffin Shore.

Harand Camp began as a children's theater studio in Chicago in 1952, then expanded into an overnight summer camp in 1955. For more than three decades it was located in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, before it moved in 1989 to the campus of Wayland Academy in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. Today Harand—which just wrapped up its 62nd season and is already planning its 63rd—welcomes campers to Carthage College in Kenosha. (The camp's offices are in Evanston.)

Sulie was the last surviving member of the four cofounders. She was a talented, deeply expressive actress-singer who specialized in performing innovative one-woman adaptations of Broadway musicals. And like her sister Pearl (who died in 1999 at age 84), she was a great teacher—dynamic, smart, passionate, and loving in both tough and tender modes.

Sulie Harand performing in her one-woman show in the 1940s. - COURTESY OF HARAND ACADEMY
  • courtesy of Harand Academy
  • Sulie Harand performing in her one-woman show in the 1940s.

Daughters of Ukrainian immigrants, Sulie and Pearl Harand grew up in the 1920s and '30s in Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood, then heavily populated by Russian and Polish Jews. Introducing youngsters to the classic works of the "Golden Age" of American musical theater as well as contemporary fare, the Harands shared not only the artistry of such writers as George Gershwin, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and Leonard Bernstein, but also the progressive humanist optimism those writers projected. As Reader contributor Craig Keller wrote in a 1996 cover story on the Harand sisters, "Sister Act," "show tunes are a means, not an end. [The] sisters use musical theater as a vehicle to teach larger life lessons about the worth of the individual and the interdependence of all people." Keller also noted, "That lesson extended to everyone—from talented mini-stars used to getting the lead in every school play to insecure children accustomed to being told they should move their lips while the rest of the class sang."

Services will be held Thursday, August 11, at Chicago Jewish Funerals, 8851 Skokie Blvd. (at Niles Center Road), Skokie. Visitation begins at 11 AM, and the service is at noon. Interment will follow at Westlawn Cemetery, 7801 W. Montrose Ave., Norridge, at 3 PM. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Harand Camp Scholarship Fund, 1569 Sherman Ave., Suite 201A, Evanston, IL 60201, or via paypal.com to hcsfund@yahoo.com.

A public Facebook page has been created in Sulie and Pearl's honor, where Haranders are posting anecdotes, pictures, and videos. There will also be updates on Sulie's memorial service. 


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