Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-02-22



PASSAGES: PFLAG's John Larson dies

This article shared 5449 times since Mon Jan 28, 2013
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

John Victor Larson, 73, of North Versailles, Penn., formerly of Plainfield, Ill., died, January 24 at Redstone Highlands Skilled Nursing Facility in Greensburg, Penn.

Larson was a vital force in PFLAG activities in Illinois, including PFLAG's support of the Gay Games VII in 2006 and its efforts to have rowing in Crystal Lake.

He was born May 5, 1939 in Peoria, Ill., a son of Velma Mae Kneer Larson of Weslaco, Texas and the late Robert Victor Larson. He was also preceded in death by his wife, Bonnie Lou Nafziger Larson.

Larson was a retired nuclear engineer for Westinghouse. He attended schools in Morton, Ill. and graduated from the University of Illinois. He was a member of numerous peace and civil-rights organizations and was an active member of St. John's, Lockport, Ill., and St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in McKeesport, Penn. His involvement with PFLAG and the Episcopal Church formed the center of his life in his later years.

In addition to his mother, he is survived by his sons: James (Karen) Larson and Michael Larson; daughter: Stephanie Larson (Chris) Graham; seven grandchildren; sisters: Martha (Paul) Rogers, Valerie Larson, Roberta Larson and two nephews.

A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, March 2, 2013 at Noon in St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, 220 Eighth Street, McKeesport, Penn., 15132 with Rev. David L. Kinsey as celebrant. Inurnment will follow in St. Stephen's Columbarium.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to either St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church, 312 East 11th Street, Lockport, Ill. 60441 and/or PFLAG Council of Northern Illinois (where a scholarship fund is being established), P.O. Box 734, Elmhurst, Ill. 60126, and/or St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, 220 Eighth Street, McKeesport, Penn. 15132.

Arrangements entrusted to the Jaycox-Jaworski Funeral Home, Inc., 2703 O'Neil Boulevard, McKeesport, PA 15132.

Toni Weaver of PFLAG wrote the following tribute to Larson in the PFLAG Open Doors newsletter:

Special people have always been a part of PFLAG, people who have given of themselves in extraordinary ways, people who have taken positions of leadership, inspiring others to follow suit. Two such people are John Larson and Barbara Schon-Lundberg, both of whom are no longer among us. It is they we wish to honor in this edition of Open Doors. If only they had lived to read this tribute. We hope that it will bring some measure of comfort and consolation to the families they have left behind.

Ill health forced John to make the most difficult decision to leave Illinois, his church family, and his PFLAG chapter to move closer to his children. Renegade renal cancer cells migrated to his brain and finally to his spine, triggering the need for additional treatment. Despite the debilitating effects of chemotherapy and radiation, John continued passionately working on behalf of the LGBT community. Sadly, the cancer claimed his body, but it could never claim his spirit.

John and his spouse Bonnie learned of their son's sexual orientation, not through the usual "Mom, Dad, I have something to tell you … . " Rather, they heard it from the police after their son had been arrested for having sex in a public washroom. Initially shocked and upset as any parent would be, they quickly embraced their son's sexuality after taking the only appropriate course of action for an engineer—they educated themselves on every aspect of homosexuality.

John and Bonnie founded the first PFLAG chapter in Pittsburg. When they moved to Illinois, they began the Aurora/Fox Valley chapter. John lost his beloved partner in life more than 10 years ago, but he continued on without her as he helped to establish the PFLAG Council of Northern Illinois and served as its first president. Later, he took on the responsibilities of state coordinator, keeping all of the PFLAG chapters in Illinois connected. Nothing could keep John from the annual Chicago Pride Parade. Even when he was forced to use a walker, he was there!

His passion for his family and PFLAG could not eclipse his love for his church. He served as Senior Warden, the highest position that a layperson can hold within the parish, and it gave him a platform from which to work for LGBT equality within his parish and the wider church communion. His death creates a vacuum that will take all of us to fill.

Barbara lost her fight against brain cancer in October and departed this life surrounded by her beloved life-partner Larry and two precious sons, Steven and Russell. She had served but one year of her two-year term as president of the PFLAG Council of Northern Illinois when the grim diagnosis came down. Prior to that role, Barbara served as editor-in-chief of Open Doors in addition to her work in the Glenview/Deerfield chapter. At the time of her departure from the Council, she was focused on making PFLAG more racially diverse, arranging for PFLAG National to provide diversity training and working toward the establishment of a PFLAG chapter on Chicago's South Side among the ethnically and culturally diverse population who live there. Her dream may yet become a reality as others take up the cause.

Barbara's involvement in PFLAG did not come about from having a gay son; rather, she took up the fight for equality when she was told by her brother that the courts would not look favorably upon a gay man being appointed guardian of her children. Her first reaction was complete outrage: how dare "they" tell her who could or could not raise her children!

Barbara was omnipresent at PFLAG events throughout the Chicagoland area. With her faithful life partner, Larry, by her side, she made her presence and passion known. If only she were here among us today as Illinois moves ever closer to making marriage equality a reality.

This past June, PFLAG National recognized Barbara during its "PFLAG Celebrates the Heartland" event at the Center on Halsted, presenting Larry with a plaque honoring her devotion to LGBT equality, which he carried home and placed within easy viewing of Barbara. Sadly, at that point, she was completely homebound but still fully aware and responsive. It was really but a small honor for a woman who gave herself completely for others.

John and Barbara, like so many members of PFLAG, provide concrete examples of what ordinary people, acting in extraordinary ways, can do to move equality forward. All of us working together can bring about real change in this world if we're but willing to move out of our comfort zones and take meaningful action.

John and Barbara, we thank you. Farewell, dear friends. You'll live on in our memories; you'll live on in your accomplishments; you'll live on in the hearts of all who knew and loved you.

This article shared 5449 times since Mon Jan 28, 2013
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Gay News

PASSAGES: Visual artist, Chicago nightlife scene drag performer legend and hairdresser Jojo Baby 2023-03-16
- Visual artist, Chicago nightlife scene drag performer legend, doll-maker and hairdresser Jojo Baby died March 14 of liver, lung and stomach cancer. They were 51. Baby was born April 10, 1971, in Chicago and grew up ...

Gay News

World's first transgender MP passes away at 65 2023-03-07
- On March 6, Georgina Beyer—a pioneering New Zealand politician who, in 1999, became the world's first openly transgender member of Parliament—passed away at the age of 65. Beyer's friends said she died peacefully in hospice care, ...

Gay News

Passages: Longtime activist Achebe (Betty) Powell passes away 2023-02-23
- Veteran social justice organizer and educator Achebe (Betty) Powell passed away Feb. 21, according to multiple reports. Powell died of COVID-19 related complications at New York Presbyterian Hospital in Brooklyn, according to a Feb. 22 statement ...

Gay News

PASSAGES: LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS activist, retired business owner Lauren Verdich 2023-02-16
- Longtime LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS activist and businesswoman Lauren Verdich died Feb. 12 of complications from pancreatic cancer. She was 77. Verdich was born Dec. 30, 1945, in Chicago. She grew up in the Albany Park neighborhood ...

Gay News

Famed gay publicist Howard Bragman dies at 66 2023-02-12
- Howard Bragman—a gay publicist whose clients included Sharon Osbourne and Stevie Wonder, among many others—died at age 66 after privately battling acute monocytic leukemia, Deadline reported. After graduating from ...

Gay News

PASSAGES: LGBTQ activist, writer and therapist Dr. Charles Silverstein 2023-02-08
- New York City-based LGBTQ activist, writer and therapist Dr. Charles Silverstein died Jan. 30 of complications from cancer surrounded by family and friends. He was 87. Silverstein was born April 23, 1935, in Brooklyn, New York ...

Gay News

LGBTQ+ police officer remembered as 'wonder woman' 2022-12-30
- On Dec. 29, the friends and loved ones of LGBTQ+ Bradley Police Sgt. Marlene Rittmanic gathered at the Comfort Inn in Bourbonnais to mark the one-year anniversary of her passing, ABC 7 Chicago reported. The hotel ...

Gay News

In memoriam: LGBTQ community obituaries 2022 2022-12-27
- The LGBTQ community lost many members in 2022, including at least 35 people in incidents of hate violence against individual transgender people and against patrons of the Club Q bar in Colorado. Here are other memorable ...

Gay News

Memorial set for Charlotte Newfeld 2022-12-09
- Memorial set for Charlotte Newfeld Memorial services for LGBTQ+ community ally and Lakeview activist Charlotte Newfeld will be Tuesday, Jan. 24 at Ann Sather's on Belmont, from 6-8 p.m. Newfeld died Nov. 17 due to natural causes. She ...

Gay News

PASSAGES: LGBTQ+ ally, activist and artist Charlotte Newfeld passes away 2022-11-23
- LGBTQ+ ally, activist and artist Charlotte Newfeld died Nov. 17 due to natural causes. She was 91. At the time of her death, Newfeld was living at the Dobson Memory Care facility in Evanston. Newfeld was ...

Gay News

Passages: Sexologist and activist Dr. Thomas Gertz passes away 2022-11-19
- Sexologist and activist Dr. Thomas Gertz died Oct. 28 due to natural causes. He was 77. At the time of his death, Gertz was in an assisted living facility. He had previously lived at Heartland ...

Gay News

PASSAGES Singer Aaron Carter dies at 34 2022-11-05
- Singer Aaron Carter—the brother of Backstreet Boys member Nick Carter—has died after apparently drowning at his L.A. home at age 34, according to media reports. TMZ originally reported the news. The outlet said that he was ...

Gay News

Memorial for Urvashi Vaid to be livestreamed Nov. 3 2022-10-29
- A memorial celebration of the life of Urvashi Vaid will be held on Thursday, Nov. 3, at 5 p.m. ET/4 p.m. CT at B'Nai Jesherun, 258 W. 88th St., New York City. In-person RSVPs are at capacity. However, the event will ...

Gay News

'Will & Grace' actor Leslie Jordan dies in car accident 2022-10-24
- Leslie Jordan—the openly gay actor who rose to fame on Will & Grace as the frenemy of Megan Mullally's Karen Walker and was immediately recognizable by his Southern accent—died in a single-car crash in Hollywood on ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'P-Valley,' Dan Levy, trans/non-binary panel, Christina Aguilera, Spirit Day 2022-10-23
Video below - Starz has renewed the show P-Valley (the network's most-watched series) for a third season, The Hollywood Reporter noted. The renewal for the series from creator/showrunner Katori Hall arrives more than two months after the sophomore season ...


Copyright © 2023 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.






About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.