READER RANT: ‘She begged them to keep the Children’s Energy Center open’

by on April 14, 2009 · 5 comments

in Education, Energy, Media, Ocean Beach, Organizing, Reader Rant

Chris Yule, Children's Energy Center Director, with children on last day of the center, May 5, 2006. ALL PHOTOS: Pat James

Editor: on April 11th, we ran a piece on the re-newed efforts to sell the old building that once held the Children’s Energy Center on Santa Monica Avenue.

The Center was run by Chris Yule for 26 years as its director and a teacher.  Thomas Funke had owned it for decades, and then rather abruptly sold it to Mark Winkler, a local realtor.  Winkler, in turn, unceremoniously turned out the children, and Chris Yule was fired without any pension or severance compensation. It appears all this was done to make a quick buck. But the market tanked, and the place never sold.  Now, it’s back on the market, three years after the Center’s closure.  A close friend of Chris Yule approached us with a rant for her, and follows.

Pat James of the James Gang, was  there the day the Center closed, May 5th, 2006, and the photos are his with his approval.  Even Larry Himmel showed up the last day to do a piece. There had been some effort by the community to save the school and to prevent the four large condos approved for the site. But not all stories end happily in our little village by the sea.

by RJ

Chris Yule is far too modest.

My family has known Chris for years, she is my closest friend.

She begged both Funke and Winkler to keep the school open.

At the time of its closing, less than $3,000.00 in repairs would have kept the school open. The school was refurbished long AFTER its closure. My guess is Winkler needed to cover that mortgage any way possible. Why no comments from Winkler? Too many rocks to look under!

As for Chris? Her story is a down right shame.

Funke pulled every last dime out of that school for himself and his future real estate endeavors. He left Chris with nothing, no severance pay, back vacation pay, nothing.

Chris is too proud to say that she is living on nothing but her deceased husbands Social Security of less than $800.00 a month.

This for a woman who loved her children (never having any of her own), and loved OB and the people.

She even found time to help get a new landscape sprinkler system donated to the OB Fire Department. Did any of them show up in defense of the Energy Center on its final day…nope.

If there is a hell, Funke will be the usher.

Not all stories end happily in our little village by the sea.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar OB Joe April 14, 2009 at 6:57 pm

This is really a sad tale about Chris Yule. Works a whole generation for somebody, only to be discarded at the end like an blackboard eraser.

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avatar PSD April 14, 2009 at 6:58 pm

I’m…lost for words. I had no idea the depth of this story.

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avatar Ed McShane April 16, 2009 at 1:42 pm

Chris Yule is an institution in OB, has enriched the lives of hundreds and hundreds of children, and should be back in the Energy Center.

The City Council and the OB representatives should consider buying that building straight away, and putting a city funded day care center back in that house, making Chris its permanent director.

And on a personal note: Keely McShane, my 28 year old daughter, was in daycare there in ’84-85, Erin McShane from 84-87. They are both better for having Chris in their lives, even flanked her on the surfboard for the Christmas Parade a few years back. They both send their love….

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avatar Frank Gormlie April 17, 2009 at 12:50 pm

Dave Gilbert – what do you think?

OB Joe, PSD, and Ed – thanks for your comments and concern.

Ed – when I spoke with Chris she mentioned that she believed the building had been moved from a military base a long time ago, and thought it actually was a mess hall originally. Perhaps there’s a basis there to make it an historic building.

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avatar Bella January 23, 2015 at 4:31 am

I miss this place! I worked there for years and also lost my job when it closed. I think of Chris Yule as family, like hundreds of others do!!

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