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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Local passages in 2015
by Matt Simonette
2016-01-06

This article shared 7364 times since Wed Jan 6, 2016
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Laurie Benz, an out lesbian and feminist singer-songwriter, among other roles in the music industry, passed away peacefully in the Chicago area on Jan. 4 after a long struggle from a debilitating stroke. She was 57.

Richard Johnson, 69, a retired City of Chicago employee and pharmacist, died Jan. 6 after a long struggle with emphysema.

Christine Johnson, a former Chicagoan who played a key role in the early Women-in-Print and women-in-trades movements locally and nationally, died Jan. 23 of complications from cancer. She was 63. Johnson was a co-founder of Metis Press, publisher of lesbian-feminist literature, and a founding member of the national Women-in-Print network. As a blue-collar lesbian construction machinist, Johnson was a pioneer in opening up exclusively male, high-paying union blue-collar jobs to women and minorities, and was a board member of Chicago Women in the Trades.

Andrew Patner, a longtime Chicago critic in print, radio and television, passed away Jan. 3. He was 55. Patner was active within Chicago's fine-arts world along with its LGBT and Jewish communities. He was a commentator on WFMT radio, and his criticism appeared in Chicago Sun- Times; he wrote for Chicago Magazine, among numerous other publications, as well.

Ald. JoAnn Thompson, who led the 16th Ward, died Feb. 9 of heart failure. Thompson was involved in a re-election ght against fellow Ald. Toni Foulkes and three other candidates. Thompson was seeking a third term in the Feb. 24 election to continue representing the ward, which includes parts of Englewood, West Englewood and Back of the Yards.

Social worker Jerre Robert Donnelly died Feb. 7 at his home after a brief reoccurrence of cancer. He was 73.

Barbara "Robbie" Smith died Feb. 14. She was a longtime Affinity board member and managed the organization's finances for 12 years. Smith was also a founding member of Forty Plus, and was a founding member of the Affinity Trailblazers.

John F. Vorrasi died Feb. 23 after a battle with leukemia. Vorrasi co-founded the William Ferrris Chorale of Chicago and served as the ensemble's Artistic Director.

Louis Beckham Snider Jr. passed away Feb. 19 in Chicago's at Brightview Care Center. Snider came out as openly gay with the Chicago Board of Education in 1979 becoming, as he put it, among the first openly gay teachers in the city. He was an art teacher at several Chicago Public Schools and retired from John Marshall Harlan High School ( now Harlan Community Academy ) after 25 years of service in 1995. He was also a founding and active member of ACT UP Chicago, which started in the living room of his Sheridan Park condo in 1988. ACT UP was a direct-action group founded to advocate for greater HIV/AIDS prevention and care funding.

Keyshia Blige—a Black woman who lived in Naperville, Illinois, but was killed in the city of Aurora—became the 19th known transgender woman murdered in the United States this year. Blige was shot and killed March 7 while driving with a passenger.

Civil-rights activist Rev. Willie T. Barrow— known in some circles as "The High Priestess of Protest" or "The Little Warrior"—died March 10. Barrow, 90, was chairperson emeritus for the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, an organization she helped found. Barrow had been active in numerous civil-rights causes since the '40s.

Jean V. Hardisty, 69, has passed away at her Somerville, Massachusetts, home after a recurrence of lymphoma. A critical voice in fighting the American right wing, Hardisty wrote dozens of papers and gave countless speeches on the conservative movement. She also testified in the court fight over Colorado's anti-gay Amendment 2, among her other work on legislative issues.

Stan Dale Boyer died March 22 of colon cancer. He was 53 and played sports for the North End in CMSA, Chicago' largest LGBT sports league.

Activist "Ninure" Dawn Saunders, a deeply religious Chicagoan who had friends around the world through the church, passed away March 31 after a long illness. She was 61. Saunders also was active in the leather community and she was for years involved with a church service at the International Mr. Leather gathering.

Jim Oleson, 77, a longtime Chicago resident and partner of gay historian John D'Emilio, died at their home on April 4.

Army Specialist Michael Nixon died April 7 in Fort Knox, Kentucky. He was 27.

Sidney Abbott, 77, a longtime New York City-based lesbian-feminist activist, died April 15 in a house fire in Southold, Suffolk County, New York. She co-authored a ground-breaking book with Barbara Love in 1971, Sappho Was a Right-on Woman: A Liberated View of Lesbianism.

Cardinal Francis George, the former archbishop of Chicago, died April 17 at his home, after a long battle with cancer. He was 78.

Daniel "Danny" Rodriguez—a popular go-go dancer at many clubs in and around Chicago and who was nicknamed the "Twerk Master"—died April 27 after a three-year battle with a brain tumor. He was 22.

J. Robert Caldwell, a retired director of Bureau of Dental Society Services at the American Dental Society, passed away April 4. He was 90.

Kevin Vincent Heffernan—devoted spouse of David Biele, beloved brother, uncle, and godfa- ther, loving friend to too many and best friend of his lucky canine companion Penny—died April 25 of esophageal cancer. He was 43. Prior to retiring, he spent 10 years years working for the American Medical Association in Chicago, most recently serving as its director of educational services.

Retired Chicago Public Schools teacher Alonzo D. Hayes, a U.S. Marine Corp vet, passed away May 6. He was 85.

Northwestern University Professor Emeritus Laurence Davis—a professional pianist-accompanist, longtime Bienen School of Music educator and former associate conductor/ principal coach-accompanist for Lyric Opera of Chicago—died April 23 in Evanston following a brief illness. He was 86.

William B. Kelley, 72, who in 2015 was marking 50 years as a gay activist, passed away peacefully in his sleep the morning of May 17. He was part of the Mattachine Midwest chapter and wrote for and edited its newsletter. He helped organize the first national gay and lesbian conference—the North American Conference of Homophile Organizations—in 1966, co-founded the Chicago Gay Crusader newspaper, and attended the first White House gay-rights meeting, in 1977, under the Carter administration. In Chicago, he was a critical player in numerous organizations as a founder, member and sometimes leader.

Lesbian author Nikki Rashan Jenkins, 42, died May 4 of complications from breast cancer.

James Murphy, aka Murph, passed away on May 15 after a short illness. He was 83 years old. Born and raised in Chicago, he worked for the Fannie May Candy Company in product control until he retired in 1992.

Pilsen resident Omar Alberto Valencia HernÃˇndez—a native of Bogota, Colombia who was also an artist and owner of OxalÃˇ Fine Art— passed away on June 5. He was 58.

Dr. Leonard Hirsch—a senior policy officer at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and founder of Federal GLOBE, the organization for LGBT federal employees—died of cancer June 12. He was 59. A frequent White House visitor, Hirsch was an informal adviser on LGBT policy to President Obama and his staff.

Activist/musician/educator Roger Goodman passed away June 19, after a long battle with AIDS-related illnesses. He was 68.

Fashion designer Terry Readdus passed away in June.

Former state representative and Cook County CFO Henry Woods "Woody" Bowman was killed in an auto accident July 10 in Southwest Michigan.

Earl McDonald, 80, passed away suddenly on July 31.He was a former member of the Chicago Gay Men's Chorus and a founding member of the NewTown Writers.

Yoshi Katsumura—the legendary and longtime chef-proprietor of Yoshi's Café, located in the heart of Chicago's Boystown neighborhood—passed away Aug. 2 at Northwestern Memorial Hospital after a lengthy battle with liver cancer. He was 65.

Joel B. Carothers, a former Chicago resident known to her friends as Joie, passed away Aug. 7 in Albuquerque, New Mexico with her longtime partner, Kate Winner, by her side. She was 74.

Sara Sullivan, 52, Roscoe's volunteer staff leader, died Aug. 15 following a 27-year battle with Lupus. Sullivan was active within the LGBT community for 20 years as a straight ally.

Mark Alan Palermo, a retired high school teacher and prominent member of the Presbyterian Church supporting the LGBT community, passed away Aug. 10 after a heart attack at his Chicago home. He was 62.

Richard M. "Dick" Uyvari, a longtime participant and supporter of Chicago's LGBT and AIDS organizations, died Sept. 2. He was 71. Uyvari was a critical part of the Chicago sports starting in the 1970s. Uyvari also competed in almost every Gay Games ( winning a gold, a bronze, and two silver medals as bowling team captain ), and helped run the bowling tournament at Gay Games VII in Chicago in 2006. Uyvari and his partner were key donors to the Gay Games in Chicago. They were also key donors to numerous gay and AIDS groups, including Center on Halsted.

MaryLu Hahn, 66, retired attorney and wife of Berwyn Ald. ( 3rd Ward ) Margaret "Marge" Paul, died Sept. 16 following a four-year battle with breast cancer.

Counselor and former TPAN Board Member Sir Bear Abbott, 54, died Oct. 1 of a sudden heart attack at his home in Louisville, Kentucky.

Architect/Interior designer Gregory Maire passed away in October.Payson McDonnell "Bunky" Cushing, a hard- working Ralph Lauren sales associate who was a staple in Chicago social circles, passed away Oct. 13, shortly after triple-bypass surgery. He was 65.

Jon Phillips, 93, passed away Oct. 27 after a long battle with multiple illnesses. He was hired by the City of Chicago in 1954 where he worked in the planning department, a job that brought him into contact with many celebrities and dignitaries. In 2013, the play Under a Rainbow Flag, based on Phillips' life and written by Leo Schwartz, had its world premiere in Chicago and won the Jeff Award for Best New Work and Best Musical Production.

Edward Anson Kamin, a retired staff engineer at Ameritech, passed away in October.

Franklyn Roger Margason, 81—a Lake View resident, author and gay-press editor who formerly resided in Los Angeles—died Nov. 1 after a brief illness.

Rev. Rodney E. Reinhart—who ministered to, among others, people with HIV/AIDS—died in early November. He was 66.

Business owner and fundraiser Robert Rymer died Nov. 13 in Key West, Florida.

Rev. Rodney E. Reinhart—who ministered to, among others, people with HIV/AIDS—died in early November. He was 66.

Barbara J. "BeeJay" Hollowell, 72, passed away Nov. 24 at her home in Franklin Park. She was a professional wood finisher for many years, and then worked for the Illinois Tollway. She was also a certified alcoholism counselor and a founding member of New Town Alano Club.

Matthew David Snyder, a diehard sports fan who played about 12 years of softball in the Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association ( CMSA ), died suddenly on Dec. 1. He was 46.

Barbara J. "BeeJay" Hollowell, 72, passed away Nov. 24 at her home in Franklin Park. She was a professional wood finisher for many years, and then worked for the Illinois Tollway. She was also a certified alcoholism counselor and a founding member of New Town Alano Club.

Former Chicagoan Bradford H. "Brad" Stark passed away Dec. 14 in Desert Hot Springs, California, after battling a long illness. He was a longtime employee of the Internal Revenue Service.

Katherine "Kit" Duffy, 71, Chicago's first liaison to the gay community, under Mayor Harold Washington, died Dec. 22 from complications of heart surgery. Duffy remained active in Chicago politics until just weeks before her death, staying engaged in progressive Democratic electoral and activist efforts.


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