Gay business owner and promoter Robert "Bob" Yeaworth died Sept. 14 from complications due to his ALS ( also known as Lou Gehrig's disease ) diagnosis. He was 64.
Yeaworth was born Sept. 17, 1955 in Cincinnati, Ohio, and graduated from that city's Anderson High School. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in industrial design and MBA from the University of Cincinnati. Yeaworth worked in museum design and advanced applications consulting for Herman Miller, Inc.
Among Yeaworth's many design clients were Bradbury Science Museum at Los Alamos National Laboratory, McDonald's, IBM, Motorola, ComEd and Bank of Montreal.
Alongside his former business and romantic partner the late Samuel Davis Jr.; Yeaworth operated several successful Chicago businesses, including Newbury Muffins and Grand Seafood Grill as well as entertainment venues Deeks Nightclub, Pangea and, in 1990, The Clubhousewhich, for several years, was Chicago's foremost Black LGBT dance venue.
When The Clubhouse was sold in 1996, Yeaworth founded Clubhouse Productions. Among the many events The Clubhouse produced were the URBANO Blatino LGBT Pride parties at Fantasy ( formerly Circuit ) Nightclub and SX CHICAGO at Hydrate ( formerly Manhole ) and The Den.
Additionally, Yeaworth and Davis created and produced the original annual Belmont Harbor "Rocks" party, which was the Pride Parade's after-party for many years until it ceased operations in 1997.
In 2017, Yeaworth and his business partner Warren Berger opened Club Escape on Chicago's South Side because they wanted to bring entertainment to the LGBT community in that area of the city. Club Escape partnered with House of Tut Production to produce Saturday Night "Mz. Ruff and Stuff's Show of Illusion" among other themed night events.
Yeaworth and his longtime life partner Daniel Bekoe met in 2003 and have spent 17 years together here in Chicago and traveling the world creating many memories with family.
He was preceded in death by his father James T. Yeaworth Sr. He is survived by Bekoe, their sons Martin and Manuel Bekoe, his mother Dr. Rosalee C. Yeaworth, brother James T. Yeaworth Jr., sister Susan E. Clarke ( Kirby ), niece Jessica Bentley ( Michael ), niece Dr. Nicole Dyer ( Dustin ), nephew Brett Clarke ( Stephanie ), many great nieces and nephews and countless chosen family members and friends.
"How can the dead be truly dead when they still live in the souls of those who are left behind," said Bekoe. "The journey does not end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard. To me, you were more than just a person. You were a place where I finally felt at home and will be forever my love, Bob."
"To My Favorite Uncle Bob," said Dyer. "What more is there to say? Like so many others whose lives you have impacted, you have set such an example for me. You were always there to listen with an open mind and provide wisdom with a level of experience that I would only come to know with time. From telling me what drinks to order at the bar to sound sophisticated ( martini straight up dry with a twist ), to serenading only me with my favorite Boys II Men song once everyone left the room, to teaching me how to love someone who saw the world so differently than myself, I am so thankful for all our times together.
"In 2017, the diagnosis of ALS was devastating, but in some ways I am grateful because it brought me back to Chicago. During this time; I got to see you in action, realize all those you impacted, and truly see your mission in serving the Blatino LGBT community and those impacted by HIV/AIDS. To me, you have always been a celebrity. I am so lucky to have been able to spend so much time with you and to care for you along this journey. Love always, Nikki."
"Remember: If you do not follow your dreams you will never know what is on the top of the mountain," said longtime friend and self-described "Chicago's Heavy Diva," Otis Mack. "I learned what it meant to follow my dreams from Bob. He was a kind spirited and soft spoken business man and guru promoter. Bob knew what he wanted and how he wanted it executed. Bob gave me the opportunity of a lifetime. It is because of Bob that I had a platform to create my lifelong dream as a host, comedian, entertainer and promoter.
"Bob and Sam hired me to host their weekly Monday night show at The Clubhouse which went on to be one of the longest running and most successful entertainment a drag shows in the city. The stage was graced by some of the best of the best, including Flame Monroe, Grace Jones, Barbara Tucker and Jamie Principal. I am who I am because of Bob giving me a chance. Thank you for being a friend."
"When it came down to his businesses, Bob was fierce and always got the job done," said longtime friend Thomas "Tut" Hunt. "For me personally, he was a genuine and loving. He spoke to everyone about everything. Bob's humor was very quick and sharp and he never missed a beat. I will miss the long conversations about myriads of topics and the great laughs we shared."
"Entrepreneur, community advocate, promoter and friend; Bob was a man who put his energy and time into securing social outlets and entertainment for the African and Latin American same gender loving members or Chicago's LGBTQ community," said longtime friend Charles Nelson. "From the early days of our friendship, Bob has been a champion for HIV education and prevention. He was also a personal supporter of many campaigns, activations and intervention from the beginning of Chicago Black SGL-LGBTQ Pride and many Chicago LGBTQ institutions.
"We not only lost a friend but also lost a man who contributed much to the history and visibility of same gender loving men and women in Chicago and we must never forget what he did to affect positive change. I will always miss him and the friendship we had."
A memorial service is pending, due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on large gatherings.
Donations can be made in memory of Yeaworth to the South Side Help Center southsidehelp.org/ and/or directly to the family with a check payable to Daniel Bekoe, c/o Cremation Society of Illinois, 736 West Addison St. Chicago, IL 60613.