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  WINDY CITY TIMES

PASSAGES Former TPAN counselor Sir Bear Abbott dies
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times
2015-10-07

This article shared 4863 times since Wed Oct 7, 2015
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Sir Bear Abbott, 54, died Oct. 1 of a sudden heart attack at his home in Louisville, Kentucky.

Lori Cannon, longtime community HIV/AIDS activist and co-founder of Vital Bridges Center on Chronic Care of Heartland Health Outreach, relayed Abbott's death to Windy City Times.

Abbott was born Oct. 25, 1960, in eastern Texas and lived in Dallas for most of his life before moving to Chicago in 2007.

He is survived by fiancee Ron Billman; cats ( Simba and Salem ) and dogs ( Harley and Dallas ); and the Great Lakes leather community.

Abbott and Billman met each other while they were both living in Dallas. They were a couple for 18 years and were planning on getting married before Abbott's sudden death.

Prior to moving to Louisville last year, Abbott was a certified HIV and hepatitis C tester and prevention counselor at TPAN. He also served on TPAN's board of directors.

Abbott and Billman previously produced the Illinois Leather n' Fetish Pride Weekend and were the founders of PozPets, a non-profit that cares for the pets of people living with HIV.

He previously worked as a banker for Chase Bank in Dallas before he retired. Abbott was also a volunteer HIV educator at Dallas Resource Center.

Abbott received the Great Lakes Leather Alliance Regional Pantheon of Leather Award in 2012 for community service excellence. He also held the title of Great Lakes Olympus Sir in 2014, was named Great Lakes Leather Sir in 2010 and was named Illinois Leather Sir in 2009.

"The world we live in is a bit less gentle loosing this volunteer, friend and leatherman," said Dean Ogren, a longtime friend as well as American Brotherhood owner and producer of the annual weekend in Chicago. "Bear was a man with a heart bigger than all of his body could contain. No was not a word that came easy to Bear, it was more of what can I help with, how and when can I help and what more can I do. I will miss this gentle giant of our community, and seeing him enjoying life and all around him, by participating 100 percent all the time."

"Bear was a passionate man who deeply loved his community and was frequently honored by it," said longtime friend Steve Kent. "His Southern manners and accent often radiated throughout a roomas he told stories of life in New York and Dallas. He was a leatherman of great spirit and love. I will miss him very much."

"I met Bear over 20 years ago in Texas at one of the local leather bars in the Austin area," said Master Mike Zuhl, Leather Sir/Leather Boy former owner and Drummer North America owner. "Bear was a true Texas leatherman in search of sharing his love for the leather lifestyle, always willing to help others who needed with no strings attached."

A memorial service is pending. Details will be released on Abbott's Facebook page www.facebook.com/MasterBearAbbott in the coming weeks. In lieu of flowers, Billman requests that people donate to Poz Pets www.pozpets.org c/o Ron Billman 6703 Longlake Dr. Louisville, Kentucky 40291.


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